BLOOMINGTON – Several groups are calling for action now in Bloomington after an incident near Lake Monroe on July 4. In front of the courthouse, members of the Monroe County Green Party and the Indiana Black Caucus stood in solidarity with Vauhxx Booker.
The July 4 incident was captured on video that has now gone viral. Booker, a black man, said a group of white men assaulted him and threatened to “get a noose” after claiming that he and his friends had trespassed on private property at Lake Monroe in Monroe County.
Law enforcement officers with the Indiana Department of Natural Resources (DNR) responded and are investigating. A final report will be forwarded to the Monroe County Prosecutor’s Office, who will decide whether any charges should be filed.
In a press release on Thursday, Prosecuting Attorney Erika Oliphant thanked people who have reached out to her over the past few days. The Prosecutor’s Office has received more than 35,000 emails and 10,000 phone calls, as well as other correspondence, expressing concern about this incident.
The Monroe County Prosecutor’s Office said IDNR Law Enforcement has been working diligently to complete the investigation since the initial response.
“During this time, the Prosecutor’s Office has been in consultation with the investigators, providing assistance where appropriate. However, the Prosecutor’s Office does not direct the actions of IDNR Law Enforcement officers. This has not been an unusually long investigation thus far,” said the press release.
The Monroe County Prosecutor’s Office told CBS4 on Wednesday they expect to get something soon from DNR. As of Thursday evening, they had not received anything yet.
During a press conference on Thursday morning, the Monroe County Green Party, the Indiana Black Caucus, and other activists said they wanted the community to know racism is not tolerated in Indiana.
“Mr. Booker has suffered a tragedy, something that our state should not be experiencing today,” said Monica James, member of Indiana Black Caucus.
They stood in the same spot where more than 100 people gathered Monday night in a peaceful protest. They joined together after seeing the viral video posted over the weekend.
“We are here to stand in solidarity with Vauhxx Booker and to say there will be no lynchings in Indiana,” said Greg Elicessor, member of Indiana Black Caucus.
Bloomington Mayor John Hamilton told CBS4 he is frustrated arrests were not made on July 4 after the incident and he is frustrated investigations take some time. He said he has been in contact with Governor Eric Holcomb and the Marion County Prosecutor’s Office. Mayor Hamilton expects the prosecution of those involved and he hopes it is a successful one.
“Resolving this one incident is resolving this one incident. There are huge challenges ahead of us on structural racism that still exists,” he said.
One speaker at the Thursday morning press conference called on Mayor Hamilton to shut down the city’s farmers market. It was the center of controversy last year when people accused a vendor of having ties to white supremacy. She denied it and called herself an Identitarian.
Anti-Defamation League calls Identitarianism a racist, anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant movement.
“I condemn it. That being said, we live and I swear my loyalty to a constitution both federal and state and I am not allowed to put the weight of government against people because of what they believe,” said Hamilton.