BLOOMINGTON, Ind.– Vauhxx Booker, a local civil rights activist and member of the Monroe County Human Rights Commission, held a press conference Tuesday with his lawyer, multiple state senators, Bloomington mayor John Hamilton and some who witnessed his alleged racially-charged beating.
Booker’s attorney, Katharine Liell, announced the the FBI had opened a hate crime investigation into the case.
CBS4 reached out to the FBI, who provided this statement:
“We are aware of the incident in Monroe County this past weekend and are monitoring the situation.”
Over the Fourth of July weekend, Booker says 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.
Booker said that he apologized after the men told him they were trespassing, but that five white men then attacked him.
It was caught on camera by several groups and a Facebook post about the incident has gone viral. He wrote in his post that the people in the video said some other “choice slurs” in addition to threatening him with a noose. They also allegedly threatened to break his arms.
He also said one of the men had a hat with a Confederate flag on it and that the men made statements about “white power.”
Booker said he suffered a minor concussion, cuts, bruises and had patches of his hair pulled out.
Law enforcement officers with the Indiana Department of Natural Resources (DNR) responded and are investigating, said Capt. Jet Quillen. A final report will be forwarded to the Monroe County Prosecutor’s Office, who will decide whether any charges should be filed.
During Tuesday’s press conference, Liell said the justice system didn’t move quickly enough the night that it happened, but said they will “continue our quest every day until justice is served.”
Mayor Hamilton said the City is cooperating with federal authorities.
Booker said he doesn’t feel this incident is what Bloomington stands for.
“We’re not a community where you can lynch someone…we are welcoming and inclusive,” he said.
He thanked everyone who was there with him for their support and said he was grateful he wasn’t doing this alone.
Two people who were there and helped saved him attended the press conference. Booker said without them “I would be a hashtag.”
On Monday night, two people were injured when a vehicle ran into a group that was protesting outside the Monroe County Courthouse in Bloomington to demand arrests from the weekend incident. There was no immediate word on the conditions of the injured protesters or the driver’s motive.
Booker said it would not deter them from further peaceful protests.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.