A Bloomington resident said he was assaulted, injured and threatened with a noose by a group of men on public property near the shore of Lake Monroe on Saturday the 4th of July.
Saturday just before 7:52 p.m. Vauhxx Booker, a prominent voice for civil rights in Bloomington, and member of the Monroe County Human Rights Commission, said he called 911 after being assaulted, and that the DNR came to the scene, but refused to arrest his attackers. Booker said he was pinned to a tree, and a group of men threatened to break his arms, and made the statement “get a noose,” while telling Booker’s companions to leave the area. Booker said the individuals, who had Confederate flags, and made statements about “white power” claimed he and his companions had trespassed on private property.
“I don’t want to recount this, but I was almost the victim of an attempted lynching. 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,” said Booker.
The site is the location, opposite of Cutright Recreation Area along Ind. 446 is near the site of the former Zoom Floom water slide, which was once billed as the longest concrete water slide in the entire Midwest.
In documentation posted to Facebook Booker described the ordeal, “On our way into the park we (a friend and I) encountered a large white male (seemingly drunk) wearing an oversized hat with a confederate flag print on it. We were polite and continued on even though the encounter felt awkward. We noticed he began following us in an ATV, and we stopped as he drove up behind us and then stated we were on private property. 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.
Even still, we advised our folks still in route to use the public beach way to avoid any possible conflict arising. 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.
The individuals were calm for a moment then quickly became aggressive, and we started to simply leave. Rather than go back on the public beach they angrily indicated for us to use the trail, so we complied, and (friend and I) started walking away from them back to our site. A short moment later they began following us yelling. Two of them jumped me from behind and knocked me to the ground. I tussled with the two and another one joined in, then two more. The five were able to easily overwhelm me and got me to the ground and dragged me pinning my body against a tree as they began pounding on my head and ripped off some of my hair, with several of them still on top of my body holding me down. They held me pinned and continued beating me for several minutes seemingly become more and more enraged as they kept trying to seriously injure me and failing. At one point during the attack one of the men jumped on my neck. I could feel both his feet and his full bodyweight land hard against my neck.
At this point the commotion and the sounds one of the men’s young teenage daughter screaming for her father and the others to let me go started attracting more people, (most whom I didn’t know) who started attempting to intervene. The attackers told the growing group, “we’re going to break his arms” (while literally attempting to bend my arms behind me) and then stated to the members of their party several times to, “get a noose”, amongst some other choice slurs. With me still pinned underneath them they kept telling onlookers to leave the, “boy” and that everyone else (all white) could go. Folks then started filming the confrontation, and shouting that they wouldn’t leave me to be killed.”
Part of the attack was also captured on video by witnesses.
A witness, who said he declined to give his name out of fear for his life, said, “All of our lives were in danger.” And that it was impossible to comprehend the amount of hatred shown by the individuals that attacked, and tried to harm his friend. He said law enforcement officers from the Indiana Department of Resources refused to arrest their attackers, and they decided later the area was unsafe for fear of their lives, packed up their campsite, and left the area. He said he would like the individuals to be held accountable for their actions.
“I was diagnosed with a minor concussion, some abrasions, bruising, and some ripped out hair patches,” said Booker, who also told the Bloomingtonian he was suffering from pain while moving his head.
The Bloomingtonian has reached out to the DNR for comment earlier Sunday via e-mail, and received the following response Monday morning:
“The Indiana Department of Natural Resources, Law Enforcement Division can confirm our officers responded to this call for service. The incident is under investigation and the final report will be forwarded to the Monroe County Prosecutor’s Officer upon completion.
To complete a public records request, please submit the attached document by mail, fax or e-mail to:
DNR, Public Record Request
Indiana Government Center South
402 W. Washington St., Room W256
Indianapolis, Indiana 46204
The Bloomingtonian found radio communications from the DNR regarding the incident, and compiled them in the sequence of broadcast:
The entirety of Booker’s statement is posted on Facebook:
Still images from the videos: