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FBI investigating alleged attempted lynching as hate crime

Indiana civil rights activist Vauhxx Booker says white attackers threatened him with a noose.

Vauhxx Booker Getty

An alleged attempted lynching of a Black man in Indiana by a group of white men wearing Confederate flag memorabilia is now being investigated by the FBI as a potential hate crime. On Tuesday (July 7), local civil rights activist and member of the Monroe County Human Rights Commission Vauhxx Booker held a press conference about the incident, which occurred in Monroe County on the Fourth of July, with his attorney, state senators, Bloomington Mayor John Hamilton and a witness of the alleged racist attack.

During the conference, Booker’s lawyer Katharine Liell announced that the FBI had opened a hate crime investigation into the case.

“We are aware of the incident in Monroe County this past weekend and are monitoring the situation,” the agency told Fox 59.

As reported by REVOLT, Booker says he was almost lynched after a group of white men confronted him and his friends and claimed they were trespassing on private property. According to Booker’s account of the incident on Facebook, he and his friends had gathered at Lake Monroe to watch the lunar eclipse. Booker says they apologized for the alleged trespassing, but that the “event organizer” later told them the white men did not own the property.

Later on, Booker was confronted by the group of intoxicated men again — whom he noted were wearing hats with Confederate flags on them. Parts of an ensuing argument and attack against Booker were filmed by multiple onlookers and have since gone viral on social media. In the clips, the white men can be heard calling Booker “nappy-headed” and yelling, “white power!” Booker’s friends appear to try to deescalate the situation and several people — some of which Booker believes to be related to the assailants — yelled at them to stop, as one man had Booker in a restraint.

“The five [men] 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,” Booker described the attack in his post. “They held me pinned and continued beating me for several minutes... At one point during the attack one of the men jumped on my neck. I could feel both his feet and his full bodyweight land hard against my neck.”

Booker also wrote that the attackers said “get a noose” to each other several times. According to his post, he suffered a minor concussion, cuts, bruises and had patches of his hair ripped out.

Fox 59 reports that Capt. Jet Quillen said the Indiana Department of Natural Resources — who initially responded to the incident — are investigating the case and that the Monroe County Prosecutor’s Office will decide if any charges are going to be filed. During the press conference, attorney Liell said they will “continue our quest every day until justice is served.”

On Monday night (July 6), two protesters were hit by a car during a rally demanding justice for Booker outside of the Monroe County Courthouse in Bloomington, Indiana. According to a police statement, one victim suffered “abrasions to his arms” and the second was “said to have been knocked unconscious and suffered a laceration to her head.”

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