Unfinished Lives

Remembering LGBT Hate Crime Victims

Indiana University Breaks Silence on Black Gay Professor’s Murder

Bloomington, IN – After a long silence, the Provost of Indiana University at Bloomington issued an official statement January 11 on the suspected hate killing of black gay professor, Dr. Don Belton, whose body was found stabbed multiple times in the kitchen of his home on December 27.  Critics of the university administration suggested that stony silence about the circumstances of Dr. Belton’s murder was damaging his reputation in an already sensationalized media atmosphere.  An ex-Marine, Michael J. Griffin, 25, has confessed to the crime as revenge for two sexual assaults allegedly perpetrated on him by the 53-year-old African American professor at a Christmas party.  Friends and colleagues of Dr. Belton are working diligently to overthrow this suspicious “gay panic” motive on the grounds that Dr. Belton was never the sort of man to assault anyone.  Griffin is being held without bail in the Monroe County jail awaiting trial.  Dr. Belton’s murder is part of an emerging pattern of hate killings of black gay academics in the United States.  Dr. Lindon Barrett, 46-year-old professor of English and African American Studies at the University of California – Irvine, was strangled to death in 2008.  Dr. Barrett’s alleged killer, Marlon Martinez, 22, was to stand trial in early 2010 for the murder, but was found dead in his Los Angeles County jail cell on Christmas Day.  The Long Beach Press Telegram reports that the cause of Martinez’s death is as yet undetermined. The statement of the provost of IUB is printed here in full:

Dear Faculty, Staff, and Students,

As the campus begins the new semester, we must acknowledge a terrible loss. Some of you may just now be returning to campus after the holidays, and I am very sad to inform you that the Indiana University community lost a dear colleague during the semester break.

Don Belton, a faculty member in the English Department, was slain at his home in Bloomington on December 27. (An arrest has been made in the case.)

In his relatively brief time at IUB, Professor Belton earned the admiration and affection of his colleagues and students.

He was a gifted writer and a highly-valued member of the faculty of our distinguished Creative Writing Program, in the Department of English. He was very well liked and very well-respected. His death is a loss not just to his family and friends, and our academic community, but also to the extended world of arts and letters and to all who value the humanistic traditions. His absence will be profoundly felt.

The murder of Professor Belton has evoked strong emotions throughout the community and indeed the nation. I trust that all members of our community will exhibit tolerance, compassion, and respect in the wake of the loss of a valued
colleague. Let us also show respect for one another and for the many and varied ways in which we express our grief over such a tragedy.

A memorial service to celebrate the life of Professor Belton will take place on Friday January 15, at 5 p.m. at the Unitarian Universalist Church on Fee Lane in Bloomington.

Our heartfelt sympathies go out to Professor Belton’s family, friends, and colleagues.

Karen Hanson
Provost and Executive Vice President

January 19, 2010 Posted by | African Americans, Anglo Americans, anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Blame the victim, California, gay men, gay panic defense, Hate Crimes, Indiana, Latino and Latina Americans, Law and Order, Media Issues, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, stabbings, Strangulation | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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