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A Car Drives Into A Crowd Protesting Against Racism In Bloomington, Ind.

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

Police in Bloomington, Ind., are searching for two people who were in a car that drove through a protest for racial justice last night. Two protesters were injured in the incident.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #1: Get out of the way. Get out of the way.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #2: (Screaming).

CHANG: Protesters were demanding justice for a Black resident who they say was the victim of a racially motivated attack. The man's lawyer says the FBI is now investigating the incident as a hate crime. From member station WFIU, Mitch Legan reports.

MITCH LEGAN, BYLINE: Last night, hundreds of people gathered in downtown Bloomington to protest an assault on Vauhxx Booker that occurred on July 4. As protesters were crossing the street last night around 9:30, the driver of a red Toyota Camry appeared to get impatient with the crowd and hit the gas. Caleb Poer was there.

CALEB POER: You know, we were expecting, potentially, people that might be bad actors to show up. I was just walking back to find my people. And I just heard tires, like, screech.

LEGAN: The protest was to draw attention to an apparent assault on local activist Vauhxx Booker as he headed with friends to a nearby lake to watch the moon.

VAUHXX BOOKER: Rather than to celebrate the holiday in the traditional way, some friends and I opted that we would have a gathering and watch the lunar eclipse. We were expecting to just have a fun, low-key night.

LEGAN: Booker says as he and his friends made their way to the lake, a group of white men claimed they were on private property and began harassing them. Booker says before he knew it, they were on top of him. Cellphone video shows at least four white men yelling racial epithets and pinning him against a tree as his friends plead with them to stop.

(SOUNDBITE OF VIDEO)

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #3: Let him go. Let him go, please.

BOOKER: They started yelling for their friends to get a noose.

LEGAN: Someone called 911, and dispatch sent Department of Natural Resources officers since they had jurisdiction over the area. Officers interviewed both groups, watched the cellphone video and decided not to make arrests, saying they'd follow up with the county prosecutor's office. Now, some lawmakers have called on Gov. Eric Holcomb to suspend those DNR officers pending further investigation. Booker spoke at last night's rally, saying it's time to start holding people accountable.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

BOOKER: In that moment when five men were on top of me and all I wanted to yell was, I couldn't breathe, and I saw George Floyd's face in front of me and all the ancestors that died having thinking that they couldn't breathe.

LEGAN: Bloomington police are still looking for the driver and the vehicle involved in last night's hit-and-run. And the county prosecutor's office hasn't given a timeline on whether it will bring charges against those assaulting Booker on July 4.

For NPR News, I'm Mitch Legan in Bloomington, Ind. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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