On Friday, the Monroe County prosecutor’s office charged Sean Purdy and Jerry Cox in connection with the July 4 Lake Monroe incident, in which Vauhxx Booker described himself as “almost the victim of an attempted lynching.”
As of late Friday morning, the MyCase online system indicates there is an active arrest warrant for Purdy, for criminal confinement with bodily injury, battery resulting in moderate bodily injury, and intimidation.
Monroe County prosecutor Erika Oliphant has now received the investigative reports from Indiana Department of Natural resources about a case described in a press release late Wednesday afternoon as “an incident that took place in the forest near Lake Monroe on July 4, 2020.”
Ten days earlier, Bloomington activist Vauhxx Booker had described himself in a Facebook post as “almost the victim of an attempted lynching.”
In a press release issued a little before 5 p.m. on Thursday, the Monroe County prosecutor’s office gave a status update: No charges have been filed because the investigation is not yet complete.
The press release, which came from prosector Erika Oliphant, indicates that no charges have yet been filed, because the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, Law Enforcement Division (IDNR Law Enforcement), has not completed its investigation and turned over all its evidence to the prosecutor.
The statement says, “At this time, the Monroe County Prosecutor’s Office cannot speculate as to charges. IDNR Law Enforcement will forward their investigative report to the Prosecutor’s Office immediately upon completion, at which time it will be expeditiously reviewed.”
On Monday evening at the southeast corner of the Monroe County courthouse in downtown Bloomington, Jennifer Crossley introduced herself to a gathering of around 400 people. She used her community leadership credentials: She’s the chair of the Monroe County Democratic Party.
But she told the group she wasn’t going to talk about that role. “Before I am a leader in this community, I am Black,” she told them.
The demonstration was pulled together on short notice. What brought out demonstrators at 5:30 p.m. on Monday were some events that unfolded over the weekend that showed racism is still deeply rooted in the Bloomington community.
On Sunday, Vauhxx Booker, who is an activist and a member of Monroe County’s human rights commission, posted to Facebook a video showing parts of an incident at Lake Monroe on July 4. The video shows him being held down against a tree trunk by a white man who would not let him go. According to Booker, the man told his comrades several times to “get a noose.”
According to deputy prosecutor Jeff Kehr, the Monroe County prosecutor’s office will be reviewing reports from the Indiana Conservation Officers (ICO) about an “attempted lynching” at Lake Monroe on July 4. The ICO is law enforcement division of the Department of Natural Resources (DNR).
The ICO will be providing the prosecutor’s office with their investigative reports, witness statements, and digital evidence, according to Kehr. “We will thoroughly review all of the information presented to us and decide what charges are appropriate,” Kehr’s statement said.
On Sunday, Vauhxx Booker, who is an activist and a member of Monroe County’s human rights commission, posted to Facebook a video showing parts of the incident, including footage of him being held down against a tree trunk.
Booker described part of the episode this way: “I tussled with the two and another one joined in, then two more. The five were able to easily overwhelm me and got me to the ground and dragged me pinning my body against a tree as they began pounding on my head and ripped off some of my hair, with several of them still on top of my body holding me down.”
Booker stated in his Facebook post that one of his assailants told his comrades several times to “get a noose.”
Several people, among them elected officials, wrote in Facebook comments that they will be contacting Monroe County prosecutor Erika Oliphant about the incident.