A Black man named Vauhxx Booker says he was nearly lynched by a group of white men in Indiana over the Fourth of July weekend. Booker took to Facebook to describe the incident, and posted video footage of the encounter, which has been widely circulates across social media.
“I don’t want to recount this, but I was almost the victim of an attempted lynching,” Booker wrote in the post. He explained that on the evening of July Fourth, he and others became victims of a “hate crime.”
“I was attacked by five white men (with confederate flags) who literally threatened to lynch me in front of numerous witnesses,” he wrote, before explaining that he and his friends had planned to view the lunar eclipse at Lake Monroe instead of celebrating Independence Day.
“On our way into the park, we (a friend and I), encountered a large white male (seemingly drunk) wearing an over sized hat with confederate flag print on it.” Booker said he and his friend tried to be polite and continued towards the lake before they noticed the man was following them in an ATV.
Booker says the man approached him and claimed he and his friend were on “private property.” When Booker and his friend arrived at the Lake, they advised others to use the public beach way rather than the private route in order to avoid additional conflict. However, Booker says the men had also blocked off the public beach way with ATVs, claiming it was their land as well. He says the men yelled “white power,” at anyone who tried to cross.
According to Booker, the men became so aggressive that he and his friend decided to leave the lake. However, as they tried to leave, the men followed them and wrestled Booker to the ground. “Two of them jumped me from behind and knocked me to the ground.” He recalled. When more men joined the altercation, Booker says he was overwhelmed. “The five were easily able to overwhelm me and got me to the ground and dragged me, pinning my body against a tree,” he explained. Booker says he was beaten for several minutes, that his hair was pulled out, and described the moment one of the men jumped on his neck.
Booker says that at this point, some of his attackers as the other men in the group to “get a noose,” multiple times. Finally, Booker says his friends and other onlookers were able to stop the attackers, and managed to call 911. They were later transferred to Indiana’s Department of Natural Resources (DNR), and officers arrived on the scene. He says he was diagnosed with a minor concussion, and also suffered abrasions and bruises.
He shared that the Prosecutor’s Office later said there was no immediate need to arrest anybody. Booker’s attorney, Katharine Liell, said she expects some arrests will be made, and criticized Indiana’s Department of Natural Resources for declining to interview witnesses when they arrived at the scene. Some witnesses even offered to show DNR officers videos of Booker being held against a tree.
Booker would tell the IndyStar newspaper on Tuesday that the DNR law enforcement supervisor at the scene of the attack insisted on discussing the property owner’s rights.
“This officer was clearly elevating property rights above my life,” Booker told the newspaper. “That’s something we’re seeing on a macro level throughout society where Black lives aren’t as important as property.”
John Hamilton, the Mayor of Bloomington, has responded to the incident and shared that he has known Booker personally for years. A member of the Monroe County Human Rights Commission, Booker was an active member of the community. The mayor admitted Bloomington struggles with racially motivated hate crimes.
“We are a very progressive city … but in our community we know we have hate incidents every year,” he said.
The DNR stated that they are working alongside the Monroe County Prosecutor’s Office to investigate the incident and “ensure a lawful resolution.”