‘I Didn’t Want To Be A Hashtag,’ Vauhxx Booker Says
The FBI is now investigating the reported assault of a Black man in Indiana on the Fourth of July. Vauhxx Booker, an activist and member of the Monroe County Human Rights Commission, says the men beat him and threatened him with a noose. The incident was partly recorded on video by witnesses – whom Booker credits with saving him.
If you’re unable to view the video below, follow this link.
NPR News: “The reason why I’m here today is simply because these folks, they didn’t just stop and watch and film my execution,” he tells NPR’s Mary Louise Kelly, in an interview on All Things Considered. “They became involved. They became active participants. They put themselves in danger when they stepped forward for me.”
The incident took place on the Fourth of July, as Booker and some friends were joining a group to watch the lunar eclipse at Lake Monroe near Bloomington. Their plan was to meet on Indiana state park land.
But as Booker and others made their way to the spot, a white man stopped them, saying they were crossing private land. They apologized for any intrusion, he said, and continued to the lake. Booker says the organizer of the event then told him that the man did not actually own the nearby property Booker’s group had used to access the park. And then there was another encounter.
“We later found out that these individuals had blocked off the public beach-way with a boat and their ATVs claiming that it was also their land,” Booker wrote on Facebook. “When folks tried to cross they yelled, ‘white power’ at them.”
Booker and others went to talk to the men, but he says the conversation quickly devolved. As Booker was walking away, one man – then another, and another, he says – set upon him.
That’s when the men dragged Booker to the tree, he says, adding that at one point, one of the men jumped on his neck.
Booker posted videos and his account of the incident on Facebook – a post that has been shared hundreds of thousands of times.
In that moment, Booker says, he couldn’t help but think of scenes from recent years, in which Black people have died while witnesses yelled for the violence to stop.
“I saw the face of George Floyd in my mind,” he says. He later adds, “I didn’t want to be a hashtag.”