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Two charged in alleged racist attack against Black Indiana man who claims men called to ‘get a noose’

2020-07-22

Two men accused of an attempted lynching of a Black man at an Indiana lake on the Fourth of July have been charged, Monroe County Prosecuting Attorney Erika Oliphant announced Friday.

Sean Purdy, 44, was charged with criminal confinement, intimidation and battery resulting in moderate bodily injury, while Jerry Cox, 38, was charged with aiding, inducing or causing criminal confinement and battery resulting in moderate bodily injury. He is also faces misdemeanor charges of intimidation and battery.

The victim, Vauhxx Booker, claims that he was “attacked by five white men (with confederate flags) who literally threatened to lynch me in front of numerous witnesses.”

“At one point during the attack one of the men jumped on my neck,” Booker, a Bloomington civil rights activist and member of the Monroe County Human Rights Commission, wrote on Facebook. “I could feel both his feet and his full body weight land hard against my neck.”

Booker also claimed that the attackers told people to “get a noose.”

His lawyer, Katharine Liell, said Friday that the charges are the first step toward justice.

“The prosecution of these individuals is necessary to send a clear and unequivocal message that hate crimes and acts of violence committed against men and women simply because of the color of their skin is not only illegal, but it is morally repugnant,” Liell said, according to the Indy Star. “Vauhxx Booker is a proud Black man who suffered unspeakable indignities at the hands of these violent individuals.”

According to a report from the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, Booker had crossed onto private property to get to his camping site, at which point Purdy told him to leave the area.

The daughter of the property owner claims that Booker and several other people then approached her on the property and “threatened her and presented himself as a county official,” according to the Star. The woman “ordered him off her property several times.”

Purdy then allegedly tried to punch Booker and, with a group of other men, pinned him up against a tree.

Purdy told police that he was just trying to restrain Booker and “wanted to stop it from happening.”

Liell accused officials of trying to “malign the character of Vauhxx Booker by even suggesting that he had committed any battery that night.”