In a crime likened to Jim Crow-era lynching, a white man in Oregon is facing murder charges for the shooting death of a Black man who allegedly complimented his white girlfriend.
The fatal incident took place outside a nightclub in Bend, Oregon on September 19. According to multiple reports and bystander cellphone video, Ian Cranston, 27, shot and killed 22-year-old Barry Washington, Jr, after Washington spoke to Cranston's white girlfriend, Allie Butler.
The "respectful" compliment Washington paid to Butler was not captured on video, however cellphone video caught the disturbing moments after Cranston, who works at a bullet manufacturing plant, pulled out a gun and opened fire on Washington, killing him.
"It is believed that the initial interaction between Barry and and Mr. Cranston began when Barry complimented Mr. Cranston's girlfriend," Deschutes County District Attorney John Hummel said.
"There's no evidence that what Mr. Washington did when he approached the woman was inappropriate," Hummel added.
"There's not an allegation that he groped her, grabbed her, was crass with her. He complimented her in a respectful manner. She was fine back. She said, 'No thank you. I'm flattered but I'm in a relationship.' No allegation that anything Mr. Washington did was inappropriate," the DA continued.
It's alleged that Cranston was "not happy" about Washington's brief interaction with Butler. After the compliment, Washington and Cranston reportedly had words outside later on and that pushing ensued and punches were thrown before things calmed down. That's when Cranston pulled a gun and shot Washington, witnesses say.
Police were called to the scene, Washington was transported to an area hospital and died the next day.
Cranston now faces second-degree murder, first-degree manslaughter and first degree assault. District Attorney Hummel says pending an investigation, if it was found that the shooting was racially-motivated, additional hate crime charges will be brought against Cranston.
"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 have called and emailed me to remind me of this history," Hummel said.
Cranston has been arrested and is being held without bond at the Deschutes County Jail.
Reading about Black trauma can have an impact on your mental health. If you or someone you know need immediate mental health help, text "STRENGTH" to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 to be connected to a certified crisis counselor. These additional resources are also available:
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255
The National Alliance on Mental Illness 1-800-950-6264
The Association of Black Psychologists 1-301-449-3082
The Anxiety and Depression Association of America 1-240-485-1001
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