Two white men have been charged with felonies in connection to what a Black man called an “attempted lynching,” which took place on the Fourth of July near Lake Monroe, just south of Bloomington, Ind.
Monroe County Human Rights Commission member Vauhxx Booker, who is Black, said via Facebook that he and a group of friends “had all planned on gathering to view the lunar eclipse at Lake Monroe, rather than celebrating Independence Day.”
On the way to the park, Booker said they were approached by a group of white men who claimed the group was trespassing on private property, at which point, Booker apologized and continued on. After being informed that the white men they encountered did not own the property and that they were harassing other travelers to the event, he went back to “attempt to simply have a conversation with some of the more sober seeming group members and see if we could smooth things over a bit.” That’s when he said he was beaten and had patches of his hair pulled out and that one man threatened to break his arms. Booker also claims he heard members of the group shout “white power” and one of the men told another to “get a noose.” Part of the confrontation was filmed, but those comments weren’t captured.
A spokesperson for the FBI told BuzzFeed News that the incident is still under investigation, but so far two of the men involved have been charged with multiple crimes.
Sean M. Purdy, 44, of Pittsboro, is facing one felony count each of criminal confinement, battery resulting in a moderate bodily injury, and intimidation, according to the Monroe County Prosecutor’s Office.
Jerry Edward Cox II, 38, of Danville, is charged with one felony count each of aiding, inducing, or causing criminal confinement; battery resulting in a moderate bodily injury; and intimidation; as well as two felony counts of battery, prosecutors said.
It’s worth noting that Booker originally claimed a total of five men were involved in his attack. It’s unclear whether the other men will face any charges, but Booker’s attorneys appear to be satisfied with the two men being charged and are hoping they are also charged with federal hate crimes.
“The prosecution of these individuals is necessary to send a clear and unequivocal message that hate crimes and acts of violence committed against men and women simply because of the color of their skin is not only illegal, but it is morally repugnant,” attorney Katharine Liell said during a Zoom press conference Friday. “The accused men who are now starting to be held accountable did not see Mr. Booker as a human being. Rather, they saw him as an object upon which to express their hatred.”
Booker said during the conference that “This is not a happy moment. It’s a necessary moment.”
“We have a legal system and what I want now is our neighbors to decide the fate of these individuals,” he said.
According to NPR, an attorney for Purdy—the man who can be seen in the video pinning Booker to a tree while onlookers shout at him to let him go—Booker’s story is a “false narrative” and Booker was actually “the instigator and the agitator.”
Of course, anyone who knows how violent, racist white people operate knows that characterizing their Black victims as aggressive “agitators” is part of the script.