Indiana officials investigate alleged lynching of black activist

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Authorities in the US state of Indiana are investigating allegations that a group of white men attacked and attempted to “lynch” a black man at a July 4 rally.

A viral video of the incident shared by Vauhxx Booker shows a man on all fours, held by a white man as spectators cry out for his release.

In a cover note, Mr. Booker wrote that he had been pinned to a tree and beaten near Monroe Lake.

He called 911, but no arrests were made.

Hundreds of people gathered in front of the Monroe County Courthouse in Bloomington on Monday to demand arrests in Mr. Booker’s case. As the peaceful protest drew to a close, at least one person was speeding. Organizers of the protest told US BBC partner CBS News that a woman had been taken to hospital and that her condition was unknown.

Booker, a local civil rights activist and member of the Monroe County Human Rights Commission, said he and his friends had gathered to watch the lunar eclipse at Lake Monroe when they met a man wearing a hat with a Confederate flag who told them they were on private property.

When Mr. Booker and his friends later approached the man and his group to “fix things,” the interaction “quickly became aggressive,” he wrote. “I was almost the victim of a lynching attempt,” he said, adding that the men were threatening to “get a rope.”

Two of the men allegedly jumped Mr. Booker from behind and threw him to the ground before three others joined.

“The five were able to easily overwhelm me and knocked me to the ground and dragged me by pinning my body against a tree as they started to hit my head and tear off my hair,” he writes.

As passersby shouted for the assailants to release him, Booker said the men said they would “break his arms” before saying “take a noose”. These alleged comments were not captured in the published video footage.

Bookers said the passers-by were able to kidnap the attackers, but continued to shout racial slurs. He suffered a concussion following the attack, he writes.

Mr. Booker said he called 911 but was transferred to the Indiana Department of Natural Resources. The officers finally showed up at the park but made no arrests.

In a statement, the Department of Natural Resources confirmed that it had received a call regarding a battery “on private property adjacent to the property of the Monroe reservoir”.

The department’s law enforcement division is currently working with the Monroe County Attorney’s office “to ensure a legal resolution,” the statement said. “This case is still under investigation and no further information will be released at this time. ”

The prosecution did not immediately return a request for comment.

In a statement, Bloomington mayor John Hamilton condemned the incident, in which he said that Booker had been “physically assaulted, reported and threatened with racial epithets”. The mayor said he was “reaching out” to law enforcement and the Monroe County prosecutor regarding the meeting, although the city has no jurisdiction to investigate.

On Tuesday, the former Democratic presidential candidate and mayor of Indiana, Pete Buttigieg, spoke on Twitter, calling the “violent manifestation of racism” “foul-smelling”.

“Something is really wrong in Indiana,” he writes.

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