Indiana Officials Investigate Alleged Lynching of Black Activist


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Media captionThree black parents and their children have conversations about raising a black child, racism, and the Black Lives Matter movement

Authorities in the US state of Indiana are investigating allegations that a group of white men attacked and attempted to “lynch” a black man at a meeting on the weekend of July 4.

The viral video of the incident shared by Vauhxx Booker shows a man on all fours, held up by a white man as viewers yell for him to be released.

In an attached post, Mr. Booker wrote that he was caught in a tree and beaten near Lake Monroe.

He called 911 but no arrests were made.

On Monday, hundreds of people gathered in front of the Monroe County Courthouse in Bloomington to demand that arrests be made in the Mr. Booker case. As the peaceful protest was drawing to a close, a speeding vehicle hit at least one person. Organizers of the protest told the BBC’s American partner, CBS News, that a woman was taken to the hospital and her condition is unknown.

According to Mr. Booker, a local civil rights activist and member of the Monroe County Human Rights Commission, he and his friends had gathered to watch the lunar eclipse on Lake Monroe when they encountered a man wearing a hat with a Confederate flag that he told them was on private property.

Later, when Mr. Booker and his friends reached out to the man and his group to “smooth things over,” the interaction “quickly turned aggressive,” he wrote. “I was almost the victim of an attempted lynching,” he said, adding that the men threatened “to get a tie.”

Two of the men allegedly jumped Mr. Booker from behind and threw him to the ground before three others joined.

“The five of them were able to easily overwhelm me and threw me on the ground and dragged me against a tree when they started hitting me on the head and pulling out some of my hair,” he wrote.

While onlookers yelled at the assailants to release him, Mr. Booker said the men said they would “break his arms” before saying “get a knot.” These alleged comments were not captured in the published video.

According to Mr. Booker, these spectators were able to take away the attackers, although they continued to shout racial slurs. He suffered a concussion as a result of the attack, he wrote.

Booker said he called 911, but was transferred to the Indiana Department of Natural Resources. Agents eventually reported to the park but made no arrests.

In a statement, the Department of Natural Resources confirmed that it received a call about a battery “on private property adjacent to the Monroe Reservoir property.”

The department’s law enforcement division is now working with the Monroe County District Attorney’s office “to secure a legal resolution,” the statement said. “This matter is still under investigation and no further information will be released at this time.”

The prosecutor’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In a statement, Bloomington Mayor John Hamilton condemned the incident, saying that Booker was “physically assaulted and denounced and threatened with racial epithets.” The mayor said he was “reaching” the police and the Monroe County prosecutor regarding the encounter, although the city has no jurisdiction over the investigation.

On Tuesday, former Democratic presidential candidate and Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg chimed in on Twitter, describing the “violent display of racism” as “disgusting.”

“Something is deeply wrong with Indiana,” he wrote.