Incident at center of viral video prompts investigation, protest; man says he was threatened with noose, called racial slurs

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UPDATE:

As the protest was wrapping up in front of the courthouse, protest organizers tell CBS4 a red car drove through the protest and rammed two people who ended up on the hood. The driver hit the accelerator and turned, which sent two people flying off.

The organizer says a female was taken to the hospital. CBS4 is still working to get more information on her condition and if the driver of the car has been tracked down.

For the majority of the day, it was extremely peaceful. The protesters said they were angry charges still had not been filed in this case. But they also say these protests are a continuation of other protests that have been happening for months after the George Floyd was killed by police in Minneapolis.

WARNING: Images and audio in video is graphic and may be disturbing to some viewers

(Video By Jaren Vaught)

ORIGINAL STORY:

MONROE COUNTY, Ind. — The Indiana Department of Natural Resources confirms a confrontation between two groups in a wooded area in Monroe County.

It was caught on camera by several groups and a Facebook post about the incident has gone viral.

In one video, you can see a white man pinning a Black man against a tree while people yell to let him go.

Vauhxx Booker, the man who says he’s the victim in this incident, wrote in a Facebook post it all started when he and a group of friends were headed to watch the weekend lunar eclipse.

He wrote in his post that the people in the video threatened him with a noose and said some other “choice slurs.”

We are working to get permission to use the videos and reach out to others involved.

Katharine Liell, the attorney who’s representing the man, said the case is under active review and believes arrests will be made. She said she appreciates those who are supporting him and praying for “an end to the racial hatred that is rampant here right now.”

We’ve been told the Monroe County Prosecutor’s Office is aware of the situation and a report is being filed.

Meanwhile, the DNR tells us the matter is under investigation:

The Indiana Department of Natural Resources, Law Enforcement Division responded to a call for service regarding a battery on July 4, 2020 at approximately 8 p.m. on private property adjacent to Monroe Reservoir property.

DNR is investigating after a 911 call was transferred to Indiana Conservation Officer Central Dispatch.  Additional investigation and interviews are underway.

The Indiana Department of Natural Resources, Law Enforcement Division is working diligently with the Monroe County Prosecutor’s Office to ensure a lawful resolution.  This matter remains under investigation and no further information will be released at this time.

The Monroe County Prosecutor’s Office released this statement:

We met Indiana Conservation Officers this morning. They are actively investigating the case.  Once we have received the investigative reports, witness statements, and digital evidence, we will thoroughly review all of it and make a charging decision.

Bloomington Mayor John Hamilton and Bloomington City Clerk Nicole Bolden issued the following statement about the incident. The statement also references a second racially motivated incident from the weekend:

On behalf of the City of Bloomington, we would like to express outrage and grief relating to two apparent racially motivated incidents reported in our community over the July 4 weekend. A group of individuals physically assaulted and denounced and threatened with racial epithets one Black resident of Bloomington on nearby Indiana state park land at Lake Monroe. And a sheriff’s deputy from a neighboring county questioned and detained another Black Bloomington resident walking down the Bloomington street where they live in an apparent example of racial profiling.

These separate incidents exemplify the persistence of racism and bias in our country and our own community. They deserve nothing less than our collective condemnation. They require that we come together as a whole, and recognize that racism damages all of us, not just our residents of color. We deserve better, and we must make it happen. Videos of the events remind us of the importance of witnesses and witnessing. Each of us must do our part to assure justice for those harmed in this weekend’s incidents, and do everything we can to forge inclusion and equity in Bloomington, and beyond.

Protesters have gathered outside the Monroe County Courthouse demanding justice Monday evening.

“I want to see these folks who assaulted me arrested,” said Booker, who spoke at the protest. “I want everyone in the community to know that you can’t treat people this way.”

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