Indiana authorities are investigating a report by a Black man who said he was pinned to a tree by a group of white men, an attack he likened to an “attempted lynching”.
What We Know:
- Parts of the incident were captured on video by one of the man’s friends. In a post to Facebook, Vauhxx Booker wrote, “I don’t want to recount this, but I was almost the victim of an attempted lynching”.
- Booker also stated that “On July 4th evening others and me were victims of what I would describe as a hate crime. I was attacked by five white men [with Confederate flags] who literally threatened to lynch me in front of numerous witnesses.”
- There had been no arrests as of Monday afternoon, but Katharine Liell, a Bloomington attorney representing Booker, told Yahoo News she expecting some to come. She criticized officers of the Indiana Department of Natural Resources (DNR) who responded to the scene but declined to interview witnesses who offered to share video of Booker being held against the tree. Liell said she was concerned that the officers had not relayed the full picture to prosecutors.
- Booker’s allegations come after a recent series of Black men were found hanging in public areas amid the Black Lives Matters protests sparked by the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. Some of the hangings were ruled suicides but are being investigated further to see if there was any evidence pointing toward murder.
- On Monday, the Young Democratic Socialists of America Bloomington chapter tweeted out a photo hanging in the city that reads, “A Man Was Almost Lynched Yesterday”. The banner harks back to the 1920s when the NAACP headquarters flew a “Man Was Lynched Yesterday” flag every time a Black man was lynched in the South.
From 1920-1938, the @NAACP headquarters flew a “A Man Was Lynched Yesterday” flag every time a black man was lynched in the south. Today, a similar banner was seen over Walnut St. in Bloomington, IN. A man was almost lynched. #BlackLivesMatter pic.twitter.com/6uvVlTKa0l
— YDSA Bloomington (@YDSABloomington) July 6, 2020
- Bloomington Mayor Hamilton thinks the presence of someone recording the event may have helped avert a worse tragedy. “I don’t know what would have happened in the woods around Lake Monroe if there hadn’t been other individuals there and if there hadn’t been a video taken,” he said.
Hamilton has stated he has personally known Booker, a resident of his city, for at least five years. Booker is active in the community, he says, and a member of the Monroe County Human Rights Commission. Hamilton concedes that even in his relatively liberal city, home to Indiana University, racism persists within and around the community.