UPDATED: 8:16 p.m. ET —
The men accused of nearly lynching a Black man in Indiana over the holiday weekend have been identified, according to social media reports. A Twitter account that appears to have just been created on Monday listed not just the purported names of the men but also their addresses and in some cases their telephone numbers.
The names of Vauhxx Booker‘s assailants who were recorded on video physically accosting him could not be immediately verified. It was neither unclear if police had received that same information nor if they were looking into the matter that earlier reports said was being ignored by law enforcement.
A Black man was almost the victim of a lynching in Indiana on the Fourth of July, according to a social media post he wrote that was accompanied by video footage of the encounter with a group of white men. Vauhxx Booker documented the episode in a lengthy Facebook post, but three separate videos from the area near Lake Monroe just southeast of Bloomington on Saturday.
Booker’s report came amid a series of suspected lynchings following the suspicious hanging deaths of multiple Black men in recent months.
The first video opens with a group of white people yelling at each other as voices off-camera could be heard urging, “let him go!” A closer look at the video showed Booker, who appeared to be on his hands and knees next to a tree that the people were huddled around.
Booker was ultimately able to get up and leave with his friends, but he recounted his experience in a Facebook post that suggested he was very close to being lynched by these unidentified white men. He described his experience as “a hate crime” and said he “was attacked by five white men (with confederate flags) who literally threatened to lynch me in front of numerous witnesses.”
Booker, who local news outlet the Bloomingtonian identified as “a prominent voice for civil rights in Bloomington, and member of the Monroe County Human Rights Commission,” said he suffered “a minor concussion, some abrasions, bruising, and some ripped out hair patches,” but said he was fine otherwise.
He said he and his friends were confronted by the white men who claimed they were trespassing on private property on their way to go swimming at Lake Monroe. Booker and his friends apologized to no avail as the white men ultimately began following them. He said the white men “yelled, ‘white power,'” which he said prompted his group to “attempt to simply have a conversation with some of the more sober seeming group members and see if we could smooth things over a bit.”
But that backfired in a tremendous way, Booker wrote:
“Two of them jumped me from behind and knocked me to the ground. 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. They held me pinned and continued beating me for several minutes seemingly become more and more enraged as they kept trying to seriously injure me and failing. At one point during the attack one of the men jumped on my neck. I could feel both his feet and his full bodyweight land hard against my neck.”
Aside from yelling “white power,” Booker said they also used other racist language. He said his attackers told their friends to “get a noose” and referred to him as “boy.”
The “white allies” who were trying to break it up successfully got the white men off of Booker, who said the attackers “continued to yell slurs and strike bystanders filming.”
A call to 911 to report the violent encounter was instead transferred to Indiana’s Department of Natural Resources, which Booker said gave deference to the white men and downplayed the encounter since they said no one was hurt. In the absence of any criminal charges, Booker has asked people to contact Monroe County Prosecutor Erika Oliphant to “swiftly act to bring these individuals to justice.”
Booker’s Facebook post and videos from the encounter follow below. Please be aware that graphic language is used in the videos.
Booker’s claims came on the heels of suspected lynchings of Black and brown men across the country. Amani Kildea was found hanging in Morristown, New Jersey, on June 28, but his death went “without investigation” and “was ruled a suicide,” according to an online petition that was started to bring attention to his case. The way authorities treated Kildea’s case was how other recent ones were treated, as well, similarly to Booker’s claims.
This is America.