Authorities in Indiana are investigating after a Black man said he was attacked by a group of white people as he mistakenly walked through private property to get to a public lake shore on Saturday.
The incident was captured in a series of videos that went viral and were seen more than 4 million times after they were posted to Facebook on Sunday by the Black man, Vauhxx Booker, a member of the Monroe County Human Rights Commission.
In a post accompanying the videos, Booker described the incident at Lake Monroe, a reservoir near Bloomington, saying that five men beat him up, pinned him to a tree, and pulled out his hair after he said he had mistakenly trespassed on private property.
"At one point during the attack one of the men jumped on my neck," Booker wrote. "I could feel both his feet and his full bodyweight land hard against my neck."
According to Booker, as bystanders yelled for them to let him go, the men said, "We're going to break his arms," and then yelled, "Get a noose." These purported comments were not captured on video.
Booker described the attack as a hate crime and said he was "almost the victim of an attempted lynching."
"With me still pinned underneath them they kept telling onlookers to leave the, 'boy' and that everyone else (all white) could go," Booker wrote, saying that was when others began to film the confrontation.
Neither Booker nor his attorney responded to BuzzFeed News' requests for comment on Monday.
In a statement, the Indiana Department of Natural Resources said its law enforcement division responded to a report of a battery at about 8 p.m. Saturday "on private property adjacent to Monroe Reservoir property."
The agency is continuing to investigate the incident and is working with the Monroe County Prosecutor's Office "to ensure lawful resolution," the DNR statement said. The prosecutor's office did not immediately respond to BuzzFeed News' request for comment.
A spokesperson for the FBI told BuzzFeed News the agency was aware of the incident and is monitoring the situation.
Videos of the incident show multiple white men holding Booker's body against a tree as a few white women stand next to them, telling the men to let him go.
When the person who is filming walks closer to the group and says, "Please, let him go," one of the white men wearing a red shirt turns and says, "You go," to the bystander.
"You go and we will let him go," one of the women says.
Another man, who is shirtless, then walks up to the bystander and says, "Get the fuck out of here," swatting the camera with his hand twice.
In another video, a shirtless man is seen apparently yelling at Booker, calling him a "nappy-headed bitch." A third video shows the same man yelling at bystanders "you invaded us."
"We were having a great time and you invaded us," he says. "You stupid fucking liberal fucks."
Booker wrote in his Facebook post that he and a friend were walking to the beach at the lake to attend a lunar eclipse gathering when they encountered a white man wearing a hat with a Confederate flag printed on it. He said the man followed them in an ATV and told them they were on private property.
Booker said they told the man that they believed the organizers of the event had obtained permission to cross the area, but they apologized and continued to the gathering site. After talking with an organizer who said the man was not the property owner, Booker said they decided to walk back through the area to "see if we could smooth things over a bit."
When they made contact with the individuals, Booker said they seemed calm at first but "then quickly became aggressive," so he and his friend started to leave and return to the eclipse gathering.
The group then followed them and then two "jumped me from behind and knocked me to the ground," Booker said.
When officers from the DNR arrived on scene, Booker said they spoke with his attackers first and then refused to make any arrests after speaking with several witnesses.
A spokesperson for the DNR did not answer BuzzFeed News' questions about why no arrests were made when officers responded to the scene.
An attorney for Booker told the Indianapolis Star that as of Monday afternoon no one had been arrested in connection to the incident.
Bloomington Mayor John Hamilton and Bloomington City Clerk Nicole Bolden said in a statement that they were outraged by the incident, which they said exemplified "the persistence of racism and bias in our country and our own community."