What in the Jim Crow hell is going on?
According to KTVZ, 27-year-old Ian Cranston was charged with second-degree murder, first-degree manslaughter, second-degree manslaughter, assault and 2 counts of unlawful use of a weapon in the fatal shooting of Barry Washington. Although District Attorney John Hummel said he did not have sufficient evidence for a bias crime charge at this point in the investigation, early details of this shooting are eerily similar to one of the most infamous hate crimes in American history, the lynching of Emmett Till.
It was just after midnight on September 19 when Barry Washington was at Capitol Club in Bend, Oregon. The night took a deadly turn after Washington allegedly complimented Cranston’s girlfriend, who is also White. Hummel said in a live-streamed press conference that Cranston and a group of people with him got into an altercation with Washington. Cranston, who had been drinking, reportedly pulled a gun out of his waistband after “words were exchanged and punches were thrown.” Washington was rushed to the hospital with a single gunshot wound and died of his injuries shortly after. Cranston was arrested that night and released on a $10,000 bond hours later.
“Our country has a disgraceful history of denigrating, prosecuting and lynching Black men for talking to white women. Over the last week, literally hundreds of people called and emailed me to remind me of this history,” Hummel said. “There’s a reckoning with race that needs to happen in Central Oregon, and it needs to happen now.”
Revolt reported that a video provided by Cranston’s girlfriend was posted online, depicting the shooting and aftermath with people in the crowd laughing and yelling slurs at Washington as he laid bleeding in the street. Prosecutors have not yet ruled out racist motivations and have asked for anyone with evidence to come forward as they continue to investigate the incident.
Since the grand jury indictment, Cranston will be held without bail until his plea date on December 6. His lawyer already indicated that they will claim this was a case of self-defense against Washington, who was unarmed.
Hundreds of people attended a vigil for Barry Washington to remember his life and discuss the issue of unchecked racism in Bend, Oregon, which is 90% White.
Max Peterson, a longtime friend and former roommate, described Barry as “a nerd, there’s no other way to put it. He liked to play Pokémon. He played Nintendo every day.” The Bay Area native had just moved to central Oregon a few months before the shooting. “I told him it would be a safe environment up here. But, that was obviously a lie.”
Rest in peace, Barry. We hope you and your family get the justice you deserve.