On Saturday, Bloomington resident Vauhxx Rush Booker was the victim of an attempted lynching at Lake Monroe. The July 4 attack on Mr. Booker, a black man, was captured on video and shared on social media over the weekend. 

In response, State Senator Mark Stoops (D-Bloomington) issued the following statement:

“I am horrified to hear about this racist attack over the holiday weekend. This is not just an issue of violence; this is clearly a hate crime and must be treated as such.

“I call on Governor Holcomb to immediately suspend the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) officers involved pending further investigation. After viewing the videos of three individuals pinning a black man to a tree so that he couldn’t breath, among a stream of racial slurs, the DNR officers had clear evidence that a crime had been committed and immediate corrective action should have been taken.

 “There is no law against ignorance and no law against the probable angry verbal exchange that preceded this violence, but we do have laws that protect people from physical attacks and intimidation. The men in question should have been removed from the park and taken into custody, pending charges. It is possible that the DNR officers were also intimidated by the group and afraid to take action. However, they could have called for backup, and allowing this crime to take place without immediate consequences both condones and emboldens this kind of violence.

 “A crime of violence is one thing. Because this violence was accompanied by continuous racial slurs and angry comments about a black person out with white friends, it should be elevated to a hate crime. If it had been a white person out with other white friends, this would not have happened. Clearly, this man was attacked because he was black. The DNR’s inaction must be investigated. This tragedy should serve as a reminder to all of us that racism is unfortunately alive and well, and we need clear reform of law enforcement so that we can hold perpetrators accountable.”