Black man pinned to tree in what he calls 'attempted lynching' at Indiana lake

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Indiana authorities are investigating a report by a Black man who said he was pinned to a tree by a group of white men, an attack he likened to an “attempted lynching.”

Parts of the incident were captured on video by one of the man’s friends.

In a post to Facebook, Vauhxx Booker wrote, “I don’t want to recount this, but I was almost the victim of an attempted lynching.” He went on: “On July 4th evening others and me were victims of what I would describe as a hate crime. I was attacked by five white men [with Confederate flags] who literally threatened to lynch me in front of numerous witnesses.” Booker said he and his friends were visiting a public beach on Lake Monroe outside Bloomington, Ind., to join a gathering when a group of white men said they were on private property and began following them.

Some of the men became belligerent, he said. When he approached “sober seeming group members” to “see if we could smooth things over a bit,” the confrontation escalated. Video posted to social media shows a group of white men holding Booker to a tree as his friends plead with them to release him. In the video, one man shouts at the camera, “You happy about this, you nappy-headed bitch? You and your five white friends?” As Booker’s friends leave, one of the men follows, shouting, “Those Black boys want to start it all.” 

In his Facebook post, Booker claimed there were shouts of “get a noose” and “white power.”

He said he was released after several white strangers intervened. He said he suffered bruises, abrasions and a “minor concussion” in the incident.


There had been no arrests as of Monday afternoon, but Katharine Liell, a Bloomington attorney representing Booker, told Yahoo News she expected some to come. She criticized officers of the Indiana Department of Natural Resources (DNR) who responded to the scene but declined to interview witnesses who offered to share video of Booker being held against the tree. Liell said she was concerned that the officers had not relayed the full picture to prosecutors.

“I believe those DNR officers were in the prosecutor’s office by 8:45 this morning, and I’m sure there were some tough questions that they had to ask those officers,” said Liell. “What we’re trying to do is coordinate with them to make sure they have the information necessary to make a good charging decision.”

Bloomington Mayor John Hamilton said he has personally known Booker, a resident of his city, for at least five years. Booker is active in the community, he says, and a member of the Monroe County Human Rights Commission. Hamilton concedes that even in his relatively liberal city, home to Indiana University, racism persists within and around the community.

“We’re a very progressive city,” Hamilton told Yahoo News in a video chat interview. “We believe in inclusion, but in our community we know we have hate incidents every year. We know there’s racism in our community and around our community, and we can’t pretend that’s not the case.”

Indiana has a long history with the Ku Klux Klan, serving as a stronghold for the group in the early 20th century, all the way up to Gov. Governor Edward L. Jackson, who worked closely with Klan leaders in the 1920s. 

Liell, Booker’s lawyer, described him as a “very prominent member” of the community.

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- my-christmas2013 - Updated at: 1:56 AM

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