A Black civil rights activist says he is facing criminal charges over a year after reporting a racist, violent attack he endured in southern Indiana. He told officers that a group of White men assaulted him and threatened to “get a noose,” which initially resulted in charges against two of the alleged attackers, The Guardian reports.
According to court documents filed by special prosecutor Sonia Leerkamp Friday (July 30), Vauhxx Booker, who serves as a member of the Monroe County Human Rights Commission (HRC), faces a misdemeanor trespass and felony battery charge for his part in the incident, which took place last year during a July 4 event.
Booker’s legal team released a statement obtained by The Guardian and slammed the charges against the activist, saying it’s an “outrageous act of punitive retaliation and prosecutorial vindictiveness.”
“This incident has been a continual case of a victim being re-victimized by the system,” the statement read. “It is the victim in this assault – Vauhxx Booker – who is being made to pay for having stood his ground against malicious racist name-calling, physical assault, and threats against his life.”
The Monroe county branch of the NAACP has also called for Leerkamp to resign, and for the charges against Booker to be dropped immediately.
Reports The Guardian:
The alleged assault gained national attention last summer when Booker said he called 911 after five men assaulted him and pinned him to a tree at the lake just south of Bloomington.
He said the men accused him of trespassing on private property and, after he tried to apologize, the situation got physical.
Booker said the men threatened to break his arms and said, “Get a noose,” while telling his friends to leave the area.
He said one of the men wore a hat decorated with a Confederate flag and that the men made statements about “white power.”
The FBI said that it was reviewing the incident as a potential hate crime, according to The Guardian. At this point there are no updates on that investigation.
The Indiana Department of Natural Resources responded to the initial assault and recommended charges against everyone involved, the news outlet reports. In spite of that, Monroe county prosecutors at the time only charged Jerry Cox II and Sean Purdy, two of the White men involved in the alleged attack.
Their cases, along with Booker’s, are still pending.