The man claims his attackers threatened to break his arms as one shouted, “Get a noose.”
An argument over trespassing on July 4 turned into an “attempted lynching,” according to the man at the center of it.
Vauhxx Booker was crossing a forest on Saturday with a group of friends to join a gathering watching the lunar eclipse at Lake Monroe in Indiana, when he said they were accosted by a white man wearing an oversized hat with a confederate flag, who accused them of being on private property.
Sharing his full account and multiple videos on Facebook, Booker said the group continued to follow them until two jumped him from behind, before three more joined in the attack.
“The five were able to easily overwhelm me and got me to the ground and dragged me pinning my body against a tree as they began pounding on my head and ripped off some of my hair, with several of them still on top of my body holding me down,” he recalled.
He said they continued to beat him for several minutes, and at one point one of them jumped on his neck with both feet while he was on the ground.
The commotion began to attract others; in the frightening videos, people can be seen begging the mob to let Booker, whom they have pinned against the tree, go — while others aggressively attempt to swipe the recording phones out of their hands.
“The attackers told the growing group ‘we’re going to break his arms’ (while literally attempting to bend my arms behind me),” Booker wrote, claiming members of the party shouted “get a noose.”
“With me still pinned underneath them they kept telling onlookers to leave the, ‘boy’ and that everyone else (all white) could go,” he continued. “Folks then started filming the confrontation, and shouting that they wouldn’t leave me to be killed.”
A number of videos shot by Booker’s friends show the group being followed by a group of white shirtless men, carrying beer cans, singling out Booker and shouting racist abuse at him. One of the men, who appears to be inebriated, continuously calls him a “nappy headed bitch … with your five white friends,” while repeatedly branding the group of friends “liberal f–ks”.
Booker claimed in his post that they called 911 afterward, who then referred him to the Indiana Department of Natural Resources. When DNR officers arrived, they spoke to the attackers first, before relaying to the Prosecutor’s office there was “no immediate need to arrest anyone,” and that the officers would simply “file a report”.
“I’m gravely concerned that if any other people of color who were to cross their path they could be killed,” Booker wrote.
I don’t want to recount this, but I was almost the victim of an attempted lynching. I don’t want this to have happened…
“Bloomington we’ve had three public incidents involving overtly racists individuals who were then backed by the police within a month,” he added. “Are we going to wait for a Black person to be lying dead in the gutter before we act? When is enough actually enough?”
According to the IndyStar, the DNR confirmed it was investigating the incident, but provided no further details. No arrests have yet been made.
“I shudder to think that if those other folks hadn’t been there that we would be planning a memorial service,” Booker’s attorney Katharine Liell told the publication. “I truly believe that Vauhxx would have been killed by those animals if people weren’t there. I believe those people had lynching on their minds.”
Bloomington Mayor John Hamilton and City Clerk Nicole Bolden issued a lengthy statement about the incident Monday on Facebook.
“On behalf of the City of Bloomington, we would like to express outrage and grief relating to two apparent racially motivated incidents reported in our community over the July 4 weekend. A group of individuals physically assaulted and denounced and threatened with racial epithets one Black resident of Bloomington on nearby Indiana state park land at Lake Monroe,” they wrote. “And a sheriff’s deputy from a neighboring county questioned and detained another Black Bloomington resident walking down the Bloomington street where they live in an apparent example of racial profiling.”
“These separate incidents exemplify the persistence of racism and bias in our country and our own community,” the statement continued. “They deserve nothing less than our collective condemnation. They require that we come together as a whole, and recognize that racism damages all of us, not just our residents of color. We deserve better, and we must make it happen. Videos of the events remind us of the importance of witnesses and witnessing.”