About two dozen people gathered in support of Vauhxx Booker on Monday outside of the Monroe County Courthouse.
Booker, a human rights activist who is Black, alleges he was physically attacked and had racial slurs directed his way by a group of individuals at Lake Monroe on July 4, 2020.
Since the incident, Booker has been charged with misdemeanor criminal trespass and battery resulting in moderate bodily injury, a felony, in Monroe Circuit Court.
Booker can face up to 3.5 years in prison and $15,000 in fines, Guy Loftman, Chair of the Legal Redress Committee of the Monroe County branch of the The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, said in a press conference Monday.
The charges were made by special prosecutor Sonia Leerkamp, who was appointed to the case when Monroe County Prosecutor Erika Oliphant recused herself from the case.
Oliphant did not charge Booker before recusing herself, but did charge Sean Purdy, one of the men who allegedly attacked Booker, with three felonies: criminal confinement with bodily injury, battery with moderate injury and intimidation.
Oliphant also charged Jerry Cox, Purdy’s friend with two felonies: aiding, inducing or causing criminal confinement and battery as well as three misdemeanors: two counts of battery and intimidation.
Booker said that Leerkamp pressured him over the past year by saying she would charge him if he did not agree to dismiss the charges on Purdy.
“It’s been the history of America that when a Black person is accused of some crime that we look for criminality within them. It doesn’t matter if you are dead. We could talk about Floyd, we could talk about Breonna Taylor, who was asleep in her bed, and people still looked for a way she was responsible,” Booker said.
Katharine Liell, a lawyer on Booker’s legal team, said they anticipate filing the necessary motions challenging jurisdiction prior to the day of the hearing.
Leill said that in the 30 years she has practiced in Indiana she has never seen a special prosecutor open a new case and file it against someone a year later.
“I am not going to let these folks go on about their lives like they didn’t victimize me, like their crime didn’t impact an entire community,” Booker said. “I am going to stand up for myself.”
Booker’s initial trial hearing is set for Sept. 13 at 1:30 p.m.