Indiana man Vauhxx Rush Booker said Sunday that he was the victim of a racist assault, and that he had the footage back up his story.
“I don’t want to recount this, but I was almost the victim of an attempted lynching,” he said in a statement posted Sunday to Facebook. “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.”
Booker said that he and others, including his friends, went to see the lunar eclipse at Lake Monroe on Saturday. On the way to the park, he and a friend saw a large, apparently drunk white man with an “an oversized hat with a confederate flag print on it,” according to this account. Book and his friend were polite and kept on going even though it was an awkward encounter. But the man started following them in an ATV, and claimed they were on private property. From his account:
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. When we arrived we told the event organizer of the encounter and it was relayed that the individual wasn’t the actual property owner and the organizer apologized.
Booker said he and his friends told people who had not yet arrived to use the public beach way in order to avoid any confrontations. But things escalated. From his statement:
We later found out that these individuals had blocked off the public beach way with a boat and their ATVs claiming that it was also their land. When folks tried to crossed they yelled, “white power” at them. Honestly, we thought it might just be the one drunken individual with the confederate hat we had encountered earlier who might be instigating the conflict. We decided to just walk back and 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. We were calm and polite, but looking back now, it’s apparent that these individuals began targeting our group the moment they saw myself, a Black man and were looking to provoke a conflict.
Booker said he and a friend tried to leave, but the other group was aggressive and followed them. Two jumped him from behind, and the number of assailants eventually went up to five, he said. They beat him for minutes. One of the men jumped on his neck, he said. He said that in the attack, he sustained a “minor concussion, some abrasions, bruising, and some ripped out hair patches.”
Booker posted three videos of the incident. The video that was more widely shared on social media depicted several white people pinning down a man (apparently Booker). People off-camera pleaded with the group to let him go.
“No, you go,” said a man in a red-shirt from the aggressive group.
In the second video, a bald, shirtless white man taunted someone off-camera.
“You happy about this?” he said. “You nappy headed bitch. You with your five white friends. You happy with your five white friends? Fuck you, put it in your fucking film, bitch.”
He and another man flipped off the camera.
In another video, what seems to be the same shirtless man claims “You guys invaded us!” He called the other group, “You stupid fucking liberal fucks! That’s what you get. Take your ass on.”
This same individual appeared in the first video, apparently smacking the camera.
Booker criticized the official response:
We called 911 who transferred us to [The Indiana Department of Natural Resources]. When DNR eventually arrived they didn’t contact us to ensure that no one was injured, instead they went directly to speak with the other individuals (attackers) first. When they finally came to the beach near our campsite where we were all waiting, multiple individuals who didn’t know each other shared videos and relayed that the individuals had yelled “white power” and a litany of other derogatory remarks, and threatened my life multiple times, and also assaulted an approximately 60 year old man who stopped to film the encounter. Yet DNR refused to arrest any of these individuals, even with multiple the witnesses several who filmed the event and collaborated our accounts. Instead the officers stated they contacted the Prosecutor’s office who relayed there was no immediate need to arrest anyone, and that the officers would simply file a report. To reiterate, this attack occurred on public land and was recorded by numerous individuals who made statements against the attackers for assaulting them and me.
The DNR did not immediately respond to a Law&Crime request for comment.
“The case is currently under active review by the Monroe County Prosecutor’s Office,” said Booker’s attorney Katharine Liell. “The prosecutor called in DNR who will be forced to answer some tough questions. Based upon my experience, arrest warrants will be issued. I am representing Vauhxx in this matter and we will keep the public updated. I can’t begin to express the gratitude I feel for those who are supporting and praying for Vauhxx and an end to the racial hatred that is rampant here right now.”
Monroe County Prosecutor Erika Oliphant said she is waiting from material from the DNR.
“I met with Indiana Conservation Officers this morning (Monday, July 6) regarding this case,” she said, according to Indiana Public Media in a Monday report. “They are actively and thoroughly investigating the events that took place on Saturday. Once my office has received the completed investigation and all associated media, we will review those materials and make charging decisions.”
[Screengrab via Vauhxx Rush Booker]
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