(WISH) — Gov. Eric Holcomb said Wednesday that the Indiana Department of Natural Resources is continuing to investigate four days after a battery report along Monroe Lake south of Bloomington.
The incident on the night of July 4 involved Vauhxx Booker, people who were with him, and a group of men who confronted Booker and the people with him. Booker is a member of the Monroe County Human Rights Commission.
Holcomb, during Wednesday’s coronavirus briefing from the Statehouse in Indianapolis, defended the work so far of the Department of Natural Resources in investigating the incident.
“The brief video clip that I viewed with my own two eyes was beyond disturbing,” Holcomb said. “And that’s why it’s important the DNR — and they will complete their investigation, sooner rather than later, they’re working on that, I think it’s right around the corner. And they will turn it over to the Monroe County prosecutor, and they will take it from there.”
The FBI said Tuesday night that it is also investigating the incident. An FBI spokesperson declined to provide additional information Wednesday.
A spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Indianapolis told News 8 on Wednesday that it is aware of the incident and will continue to monitor the situation.
Hundreds of people showed up Monday night and Tuesday night for a demonstration at the Monroe County Courthouse in support of Booker.
Many of the demonstrators outside the Courthouse called for the men who confronted Booker and the people with him, in what he says was nearly a lynching, to be prosecuted and law enforcement to be held accountable for not acting sooner.
Booker has said he doesn’t have the privilege of ignoring racism. Social media video showed him pinned to a tree and scared for his life on what was supposed to be a fun outing to view the lunar eclipse.
Booker said Tuesday, “I think it’s undeniable when a group of white men feel that they can call for a noose, call me nappy headed, scream out white power and attempt to lynch a man in broad daylight.”
During a Tuesday news conference, Booker was surround by his attorney; state Sen. J.D. Ford, a Democrat from Indianapolis; and Shelli Yoder, the Democratic Party nominee running unopposed in the District 40 race for the Indiana Senate.
“We Hoosiers will stand up,” Yoder said. “We will fight for justice for Vauhxx and we must fight for justice for all black lives.”
“At least I’m not alone,” Booker said. “At least I have community leaders that are willing to stand up, that I live in a community where people are willing to stand up.”
Two people in a red car struck protesters Monday night as the demonstration was ending. Bloomington Police Department on Tuesday said they were looking for two people in the car. Police said Wednesday they can’t confirm, using the car’s license plate number, that the woman seen driving it was the registered owner.
Holcomb, a Republican, will face Dr. Woody Myers, a Democrat, in the Nov. 3 election. Myers’ campaign sent this statement:
Racism and hate are ever-present threats to our civil society. As Governor, I will push for real and meaningful hate crimes legislation that will get the job done to deter crimes motivated by hate. Linda and I will work for equal justice for all Hoosiers.Dr. Woody Myers
This story has been updated to include a statement from Dr. Woody Myers.