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Posted by: TEEBONE ®

07/19/2020, 19:04:15

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2 White Men Charged After Helping Pin Black Man to a Tree in Indiana, Officials Say

By Michael Levenson and Johnny Diaz
7-8 minutes

The charges came after Vauhxx Booker said on Facebook that he had been assaulted by a group of men who had threatened to “get a noose.”

Credit...Kelly Wilkinson/The Indianapolis Star, via Associated Press

Two white men who the authorities say helped pin a Black man against a tree by an Indiana lake on the Fourth of July were charged on Friday with battery and other crimes.

The charges against the men, Sean M. Purdy and Jerry Edward Cox II, came after Vauhxx Booker, a member of the Monroe County Human Rights Commission in Bloomington, Ind., said on Facebook that a group of men had assaulted him and had threatened to “get a noose.”

Video of the episode drew broad condemnation, and the F.B.I. said it was investigating the confrontation, which Katharine C. Liell, Mr. Booker’s lawyer, said was clearly a racially motivated hate crime. Ms. Liell said that Mr. Purdy had been wearing a hat with a Confederate flag on it, which upset Mr. Booker.

Mr. Booker said he learned on Friday that he had tested positive for Covid-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus. Ms. Liell said the men had spat and yelled in Mr. Booker’s face when they confronted him on July 4.

“We need to realize we are all human and that this quest is for justice, rather than vengeance,” Mr. Booker, 36, said on Friday at a news conference held on Zoom with Ms. Liell. “I want us to understand that accountability, which is what I’m asking for, is not the same as punishment.”

Mr. Purdy, 44, was charged with three felonies: criminal confinement, intimidation and battery resulting in moderate bodily injury, according to Erika Oliphant, the prosecuting attorney in Monroe County, Ind.

Ms. Oliphant said that Mr. Cox, 38, was charged with two felonies — aiding, inducing or causing criminal confinement, and battery resulting in moderate bodily injury — as well as three misdemeanor charges of intimidation and battery.

In a statement, one of Mr. Purdy’s lawyers, Mark Kamish, said the legal team was “obviously disappointed” with Ms. Oliphant’s decision to charge Mr. Purdy but not Mr. Booker, whom the statement called Mr. Purdy’s “trespassing assailant.”

The statement said that “legitimate and evidence-based charging recommendations by law enforcement officers” had been ignored.

“Indiana law allows citizens to make arrests of people punching other people on private property, and to use reasonable force in doing so,” the statement said. “Indiana also has a broad self-defense statute.”

Ms. Liell said it was not clear if Mr. Booker had actually hit Mr. Purdy or Mr. Cox during the struggle.

“He was trying to protect himself,” she said. “Whether he actually made contact with anyone, I don’t think even Mr. Booker knows.”

Mr. Cox’s lawyer, Joseph Lozano, said he would not comment on a pending case.

Mr. Booker said the encounter began after he and his friends gathered to watch a lunar eclipse at Lake Monroe, a large beach near Bloomington that is about 60 miles south of Indianapolis.


Credit...Brennan Golightly, via Associated Press

A group of white men told Mr. Booker and his friends that they were on private property, he said on Facebook.

Part of the confrontation was captured on a cellphone video that Mr. Booker posted online. The video shows one man holding Mr. Booker against a tree as several other people surround him. Bystanders can be heard calling for them to let him go.

“I was attacked by five white men,” Mr. Booker said on Facebook, “who literally threatened to lynch me in front of numerous witnesses.” He said he had heard the men say “get a noose” and use racial slurs.

Mr. Booker said that bystanders eventually got the men to stop and that he and his friends left the area and called the authorities. In another video, the men can be seen following Mr. Booker and his friends, accusing them of trespassing and berating them with profanity.

In his Facebook post, Mr. Booker said he had a minor concussion, some abrasions, bruising and loss of hair from having been pulled.

According to a report filed by an investigator with the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, footage of the confrontation showed that it was Mr. Purdy who held Mr. Booker against the tree.

In an interview for the report, Mr. Purdy acknowledged that he had been wearing a cowboy hat with a Confederate flag on it and drinking “quite a bit” that day. Mr. Purdy said that he had forced his way between his girlfriend, Caroline McCord, and Mr. Booker after Mr. Booker started yelling at Ms. McCord.

“Don’t talk to my lady like that,” Mr. Purdy said he told Mr. Booker, according to the report. “You are over here on our property. You are not going to come over here and do this.”

Mr. Purdy claimed that Mr. Booker had punched him in the jaw, causing a large bruise on his chin. He said his memory was “a little blurry” after that and he didn’t remember how he ended up holding Mr. Booker against a tree, according to the report.

Ms. McCord said she told Mr. Booker and his friends before the confrontation that they were on private property owned by her father, according to the report.

She said Mr. Booker then told her he was a county commissioner and said, “Do you know how many fines I can charge you for?” according to the report.

Ms. McCord said she asked Mr. Booker to leave, but Mr. Booker became aggressive and said: “I’m going to make your life miserable. I could put all these fines on your land and you won’t even know what to do,” according to the report.

In the report, Mr. Cox told an investigator that he had probably consumed a “12 pack” that day and that he “had a good buzz.” He said that Mr. Booker had punched him in the eye and that he had hit Mr. Booker twice. He said that neither he nor anyone else had said “get a noose,” although he acknowledged that he had used a racial slur and that he was “sorry about that,” according to the report.

As videos of the confrontation spread online, they drew outrage from officials and helped motivate a protest in the city on July 6. A driver of a red Toyota accelerated into a crowd of protesters that night, injuring at least two people.

Ms. Liell that the F.B.I. was investigating the case as a possible hate crime. The F.B.I. said on Friday that it does not comment on ongoing investigations.

In a statement, Mayor John Hamilton of Bloomington and the city clerk, Nicole Bolden, condemned the confrontation, saying that a group “physically assaulted and denounced and threatened with racial epithets one Black resident of Bloomington.”


Democrats wouldn't buy a clue if it was government subsidized.

Modified by TEEBONE at Sun, Jul 19, 2020, 19:05:01

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