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Two Indiana men accused of attempting to lynch a Black man over Fourth of July weekend have been charged by county authorities.
Sean Purdy, 44, and Jerry Edward Cox II, 38, who are accused of pinning Vauhxx Booker up against a tree and beating him on July 4 at Lake Monroe, are facing a number of charges in connection to the alleged assault. Warrants have been issued for both men.
Purdy has been charged with felony criminal confinement, battery, and intimidation, Monroe County Prosecuting Attorney Erika Oliphant announced on Friday.
Cox faces counts of aiding, inducing or causing criminal confinement, intimidation, as well as three separate battery charges.
Booker, who said he was “attacked by five white men” with Confederate flags “who literally threatened to lynch me in front of numerous witnesses,” is a civil rights activist and a member of the Monroe County Human Rights Commission in Bloomington, according to his Facebook profile.
The group of men "stated to the members of their party several times to, 'get a noose,' amongst some other choice slurs," Booker wrote on Facebook, NBC News reported.
Several other witnesses say they heard the phrase “get a noose,” as well, the Indy Star reported.
“At one point during the attack one of the men jumped on my neck,” Booker wrote on Facebook. “I could feel both his feet and his full body weight land hard against my neck.”
The confrontation unfolded after Booker and a group of friends allegedly walked onto private property while attempting to reach a site to watch a lunar eclipse. The group crossed onto private property to get to the eclipse site, according to a report authored by the Indiana Department of Natural Resources. He was told to vacate the premises.
The daughter of the property owner insisted Booker had “threatened her” and impersonated a “county official,” the Indy Star also reported. Purdy and Booker subsequently got into a physical altercation. Video of the confrontation was also posted to Booker's social media.
Booker’s lawyer applauded the charges.
“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,” his lawyer Katharine Liell said, according to the Indy Star. “Vauhxx Booker is a proud Black man who suffered unspeakable indignities at the hands of these violent individuals.”
She blasted authorities for attempting to “malign the character of Vauhxx Booker by even suggesting that he had committed any battery that night.”
Meanwhile, lawyers for Purdy and Cox accused Booker of “race baiting” and spinning a “false narrative,” the Indy Star previously reported.
“Mr. Booker was the instigator and the agitator," attorney David Hennessy, who represents the two men, said at a press conference last week.
Hennessy also repeated that Booker had trespassed shortly before the alleged assault.
"Mr. Booker threw the punches,” he added. “He was then restrained — not beaten, restrained.”
The Monroe County District Attorney’s Office didn’t immediately respond to Oxygen.com’s request for comment.
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