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The FBI has launched an investigation after a Black man in Indiana said he was nearly the victim of a lynching over the holiday weekend by a group of angry white men who pinned him to a tree, jumped on his neck and threatened to “get a noose.”
Vauhxx Booker, a member of the Monroe County Human Rights Commission, took to Facebook over the weekend to recount the July 4th attack which he said occurred as he and some friends were on their way to view the lunar eclipse at Monroe Lake near Bloomington.
“I was almost the victim of an attempted lynching,” Booker wrote. “I don’t want this to have happened to me or anyone. It hurts my soul, and my pride, but there are multiple witnesses and it can’t be hidden or avoided.”
FBI spokeswoman Chris Bayender told The Associated Press the FBI plans to look into the incident, which was captured in multiple videos Booker posted on social media.
“The FBI is investigating,” she said. “We have no further comment.”
Booker’s attorney Katherine Liell elaborated further, saying she believed witnesses to the incident were being interviewed and that charges could be possible.
“We want this investigated as a hate crime. It was clearly racially motivated,” she said. “We will continue our quest every day until some justice is served.”
Booker said on Facebook that he had some friends had been walking to a public beach when he encountered a white man wearing a hat with a confederate flag. The man began following Booker and his friend in an ATV before telling them they were on private property.
“We relayed to him that we believed the organizers had received permission from the property owners to cross, but apologized and went on to our beautiful site just off the water without any further incident,” he wrote.
Booker said he learned after arriving on the public beach that the organizer of the event had gotten permission from a person who “wasn’t the actual property owner.”
The situation escalated after another group of people trying to make their way to the event through a public beach access way were blocked by a group of men who yelled “white power” at them.
Booker said he and his friend decided to walk back to the area to see if they could “smooth things over” when the altercation turned violent.
“Two of them jumped me from behind and knocked me to the ground,” he wrote. “I tussled with the two and another one joined in, then two more. The five were able to easily overwhelm me and got me to the ground and dragged me pinning my body against a tree as they began pounding on my head and ripped off some of my hair, with several of them still on top of my body holding me down.”
Booker said the men “continued beating me” for several minutes, with one man even jumping on his neck.
The men threatened to “break his arms” and repeatedly told others in their party to “get a noose,” Booker said.
Bystanders, who Booker described as “white allies,” were able to get the attackers off him and eventually the group called 911.
Authorities with the Indiana Department of Natural Resources responded to the scene but didn't make any arrests.
Liell said she believes the officers “did not move rapidly enough” and questioned the decision not to make any arrests on the night of the alleged attack.
Booker said he was glad the FBI has now intervened to look into the incident.
“I’m sad that this happened, honestly,” he said, according to The Associated Press. “I just wanted to have a good time with some friends.”
Capt. Jet Quillen of the Indiana Department of Natural Resources told local station WXIN that they are also continuing their investigation and will present a final report to the Monroe County Prosecutor’s Office, who would made any charging decisions.
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