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Two Men Were Charged After A Black Man Said He Was The Victim Of An "Attempted Lynching"

"The accused men ... did not see Mr. Booker as a human being. Rather, they saw him as an object upon which to express their hatred."

Posted on July 17, 2020, at 5:34 p.m. ET

Vauhxx Booker wears sunglasses on his head, staring to his right, while at a press conference
Jeremy Hogan / Sipa USA via AP

Vauhxx Booker

Indiana prosecutors filed criminal charges Friday against two men in connection with an alleged attack on a Black man who said he was the victim of an attempted lynching at a lake on the 4th of July.

Sean M. Purdy, 44, of Pittsboro, is facing one felony count each of criminal confinement, battery resulting in a moderate bodily injury, and intimidation, according to the Monroe County Prosecutor's Office.

Jerry Edward Cox II, 38, of Danville, is charged with one felony count each of aiding, inducing, or causing criminal confinement; battery resulting in a moderate bodily injury; and intimidation; as well as two felony counts of battery, prosecutors said.

Arrest warrants have been issued for both men. A representative for the Monroe County Jail said the pair had not yet been booked.

The charges come nearly two weeks after Vauhxx Booker said five men beat him up, pinned him to a tree, and pulled out his hair after he said he had mistakenly walked through private property to get to the beach at Lake Monroe near Bloomington for a lunar eclipse gathering.

Booker, a member of the Monroe County Human Rights Commission, wrote in a Facebook post about the incident that as bystanders yelled for the men to let him go, the men said, "We're going to break his arms," and then yelled, "Get a noose."

In the post, Booker described the attack as a hate crime and said he was "almost the victim of an attempted lynching."

Videos of the incident show multiple white men holding Booker's body against a tree; a few white women stand next to the men, telling them to let him go.

The videos did not capture the purported comments about a noose; however, witnesses told officers with the Indiana Department of Natural Resources that they heard someone say "Get a noose" before they started to record the altercation, according to a department report.

Graffiti saying "Justice for Vauhxx, make racists afraid again" is painted on a road barrier next to a lake with trees near where Booker was allegedly assaulted
Jeremy Hogan / Sipa USA via AP

"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," Booker's attorney, Katharine Liell, said during a press conference over Zoom on Friday afternoon.

Liell said she hoped federal hate crimes would also be filed against the defendants.

"The accused men who are now starting to be held accountable did not see Mr. Booker as a human being," she said. "Rather, they saw him as an object upon which to express their hatred."

A spokesperson for the FBI told BuzzFeed News on Friday that the agency was continuing to investigate.

Attorney information for the accused was not immediately available.

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.