FBI investigates alleged attempted lynching of black civil rights activist

The FBI is investigating the attempted lynching of a black civil rights activist by a group of white men in Indiana.

Vauhxx Booker, who is a member of the Monroe County Human Rights Commission, claims the men pinned him against a tree before beating him, and one shouted at the others to “get a noose”.

Onlookers including his friends – all of whom were white – filmed the incident and shouted “let him go!” but one of the men shouted back: “You get out of here, leave the boy with us.”

In a social media post on Friday, Mr Booker said: “Some moments I feel like myself again, until I wake from nightmares drenched in sweat during the middle of the night.”

Pic: Jeremy Hogan/SOPA Images/Shutterstock Vauhxx Booker Protest in Bloomington, US - 06 Jul 2020 Vauhxx Booker, blue shirt, speaks during a community gathering to fight against racism. Protesters are demanding justice for Vauhxx Booker, who was allegedly lynched at Lake Monroe on Saturday the 4th of July 2020. 6 Jul 2020
Image:Vauhxx Booker says he has had ‘nightmares’ about the incident. Pic: Jeremy Hogan/SOPA Images/Shutterstock

He wrote about the 4 July confrontation on his Facebook page, which he said took place at Lake Monroe, near Bloomington, where he and his friends had decided to watch the lunar eclipse rather than celebrate Independence Day.

On their way to a park a man wearing a cap emblazoned with a Confederate flag accused them of trespassing on private property, he said.

They told him they believed event organisers had received permission to cross the area, but apologised and warned others to use a public beach to get to the site to avoid conflict. They later discovered it had been blocked off by a group.

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“They yelled ‘white power’ at them,” and other derogatory remarks he said in his account, so he decided to speak to the men, which is when the altercation turned violent.

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The 36-year-old said he suffered concussion, as well as cuts and bruises. He also said the men ripped out some of his hair.

When he was finally let go, he and others called the police, and when officers arrived at the scene he said they spoke to the other group first, made no arrests and told him they would file a report.

A spokesman for the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, whose officers responded to the incident and were criticised for failing to make arrests at the time, said the agency is co-operating with the FBI while continuing its own investigation with local prosecutors.

Mr Booker’s lawyer, Katharine Liell, wrote on Facebook: “The FBI has opened an investigation into the attack on Vauhxx as a hate crime. We welcome this inquiry and feel we are one step closer to justice.”

She told reporters the attack was “clearly racially motivated” and that her client only survived because witnesses came to his aid.

“I had friends and strangers who were willing to put their lives and their bodies on the line to make sure that a man they didn’t know, who looked different than them was able to survive the situation,” Mr Booker said at a news conference this week.

Mark Gibson

Graduates in Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois 1990. Move to Los Angeles California in 2004. Specialized in Internet journalism.

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