IU football player shot and killed during protests

Chris Beaty, a former Indiana University football player who retained close links to the program, was shot and killed late Saturday night during street protests in Indianapolis.

Much like many of the nation’s largest cities, Indianapolis was the focus of tense weekend demonstrations objecting to the death of George Floyd at the hands of police officers in Minneapolis.

Beaty, 38, was a defensive tackle between 2000 and 2004 and a businessman who forged a tight relationship with current coach Tom Allen and gained a reputation as a strong alumni supporter of the Hoosiers.

Others began issuing comments about how beloved a member of the community Beaty was.

Allen and other Indiana sports personalities were distraught over Beaty’s death.

“I am at a loss for words,” Allen said. “The news of the passing of Chris Beaty is just devastating. Since I returned home to coach at Indiana, Chris embraced me, encouraged me and supported me. His passion for life and Indiana football energized me every time we were together.”

Beaty, who was African American, was a three-time high school state champion football player for Cathedral High School in the late 1990s. He died from multiple gunshot wounds at the intersection of Vermont and Talbot streets, according to police.

Aside from his football connection, Beaty operated a business called Fresh Marketing. He also had managed some Indianapolis nightclubs and sometimes made radio appearances to talk football.

Beaty was widely known as an affable man, and recently, during the COVID-19 pandemic, he helped start a firm called Worldwide Masks to connect people with the protective device.

Eric Gordon, a former IU basketball player who now competes for the Houston Rockets in the NBA, wrote a sad and supportive message about Beaty on Twitter: “R.I.P. Chris Beaty. Was great guy. We had some good times at IU. You will be truly missed, bro.”

Demonstrating the breadth of Beatty’s reach, Indianapolis 500 driver Marco Andretti wrote: “This is hitting close to home. Lost a good guy in Indy as he was shot down last night downtown. RIP Chris Beaty. Praying for humanity right about now.”

Andretti, grandson of Indianapolis 500 champion Mario Andretti, also quoted the Dalai Lama: “Violence will only increase the cycle of violence.”

Peaceful protests and riots and looting have followed broadcasting of a video showing four police officers taking into custody 46-year-old Floyd on May 25. A delicatessen employee called for assistance after accusing Floyd of buying cigarettes with a counterfeit $20 bill.

A video shows Floyd apparently did not resist arrest, yet had his neck pinned by officers for 8 minutes, 46 seconds as he gasped out the words, “I can’t breathe.” All four white officers present were fired, and one, Derek Chauvin, was charged with third degree murder.

The video incited anger and ignited protests nationwide with marchers on the streets calling for justice and demanding an end to a widespread perception of police bigotry toward innocent African American individuals with the theme “Black Lives Matter.”

Seymour joined in the sentiment with a demonstration Monday as protestors held up signs decrying police brutality.

Byproducts of the unrest have included burning and smashing cars and stores, looting of businesses and attacks on journalists in selected cities.

Much remains unknown about Beaty’s death. Beaty played for the Hoosiers under two head coaches, Cam Cameron and Gerry DiNardo. Indiana did not have a winning record during his stay.

Several organizations and individual coaches who have had close dealings with African Americans and sports that have benefited from their talents have expressed support for Black Lives Matter during this period of unrest.

“Tragic events in the black community leave us with a shared sense of sadness and moral outrage,” said Danny Lopez, vice president for external affairs and corporate communications for Pacers Sports and Entertainment. “We condemn racism, and we fully support those peacefully coming forward in the names of justice and change. Our city and our state are strong and resilient, and we must listen to and respect each other.”

The Indiana Pacers and the NBA have regularly been in the forefront of race relations in American sport.

Longtime Michigan State basketball coach Tom Izzo issued a strong statement, reading in part, “The last few days have been among my most difficult as a coach,” he said. “The conversations I’ve had with players and staff, both current and former, have been raw and emotional.

“As a white American basketball coach who has been trusted and accepted into African American homes across our country, the racism and injustice I’ve witnessed has sickened my soul.”

Indianapolis Colts head coach Frank Reich echoed those feelings Monday during a Zoom interview.

“Few things stir the human heart and soul like injustice,” Reich said. “When we see it, feel it, experience it, it is heart-wrenching. It is not enough for a person who looks like me (white) to say, ‘I’m not racist.’ It is easy to be silent and do nothing when it doesn’t directly impact you.

“Racism is vile, deplorable, detestable. There is no form of it that is acceptable and in no way can it be justified. Our black community has borne the brunt of this injustice far too long. I believe that I, we, all have a personal responsibility to speak up and to act in ways that build each other up, not tear each other down.”

For Allen, Beaty’s death is personal.

“He was one of our first alumni that displayed his unwavering support for what we are building here at Indiana and how we are building it,” Allen said. “I am so heartbroken for his family, and he will be deeply missed by all those that were blessed to call him a friend.”