Why does there always seem to be so much hesitation to arrest racists who attack Black people and call it vigilante work? It took nearly two months for George Zimmerman to be arrested for the killing of Trayvon Martin (and we all know how that turned out) and it took well over two months for the three men involved in the death of Ahmaud Arbery to be arrested. Now, a Black man in Indiana claims he was the victim of an attempted lynching committed by a group of white men who accused him of trespassing. Despite the attack being partially caught on camera, no arrests have been made days after it took place. Thankfully, this Black man survived to tell his story.
IndyStar reports that Indiana Conservation Officers are investigating the altercation between Monroe County Human Rights Commission member Vauhxx Booker and five white men who Booker said beat and attempted to lynch him on Saturday at Lake Monroe.
Booker said he and some friends were at Lake Monroe, just south of Bloomington, to watch the lunar eclipse Saturday when a group of white men approached claiming they were trespassing on private property. One of the men was wearing a hat with a Confederate flag, according to Booker.
Booker said he apologized. When he and some of his friends later went to talk with the group in an attempt to “smooth things over,” he said five white men attacked him.
Booker posted a series of what appear to be cellphone videos of the incident. The videos contain strong language and gestures.
One clip shows a white man in a red shirt pinning or holding Booker against a tree. Someone off camera can be heard shouting “let him go,” while the man holding the other man turns to the camera and tells them to leave. Other men and a woman, all white, are near the man at the tree and are shouting. At one point, a shirtless man tries to knock the camera out of the hand of the person shooting video.
Another video shows the same shirtless man calling a man off-camera a “nappy headed (expletive).” The man off camera replies “What do you really want to call me?” and the shirtless man repeats the phrase.
The shirtless man in another video clip yells “You invaded us” and calls another man a “stupid (expletive) liberal (expletive).”
Booker claimed in a Facebook post that one of the white men told someone to “get a noose” during the attack. He also said one of the men shouted, “white power” and another threatened to break his arms. None of those comments are captured in the video but what can be seen in the footage is a man pinning Booker to a tree while he’s down on his hands and knees and while onlookers are demanding that the men let him go. It’s unclear why that footage isn’t enough to make immediate arrests, especially considering the fact that there were several witnesses who can be heard shouting at the men to release Booker.
“The Indiana Department of Natural Resources, Law Enforcement Division is working diligently with the Monroe County Prosecutor’s Office to ensure a lawful resolution,” officials wrote in a press release, IndyStar reports. “This matter remains under investigation and no further information will be released at this time.”
According to the Washington Post, hundreds of protesters gathered outside Monroe County Courthouse in Bloomington on Monday to demand that Booker’s alleged assailants be arrested immediately.
The protest was peaceful except for one incident where a motorist was caught on video plowing into a protester after stopping to remove a scooter that was in the driver’s way. The driver sped off as one protester clung to the side of the car which another protester told the Post “went 0 to 50 in about three seconds.”
Bloomington Mayor John Hamilton and City Clerk Nicole Bolden released a joint statement regarding Booker’s attack and a separate incident of alleged racial profiling where “a sheriff’s deputy from a neighboring county questioned and detained another Black Bloomington resident walking down the Bloomington street where they live.”
“These separate incidents exemplify the persistence of racism and bias in our country and our own community,” the statement reads. ”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.”
Booker said in his post that he suffered a mild concussion and bruises and that patches of his hair had been pulled out. Hopefully, his horrifying story ends in his alleged attackers being brought to justice.