Man Charged With Killing Black Man for Complimenting His Girlfriend

In Summary

An Oregon man has been charged with the murder of a Black man who prosecutors say complimented his girlfriend at a Washington nightclub. 

Trigger Warning: This story contains graphic content. 

In a case that has drawn analogies to the assassination of Emmett Till, an Oregon man has been arrested and charged with murder after a Black man was killed for speaking to the suspect’s girlfriend at a Washington nightclub, as reported by CNN.  

Ian Mackenzie Cranston, a 27-year-old white man, has been indicted on charges that include second-degree murder, first and second-degree manslaughter, first-degree assault and two counts of unlawful use of a weapon. He’s accused of killing Barry Washington Jr., a 22-year-old Black man who was unarmed, on September 19. 

RELATED: Washington Man Charged with Hate Crime for Threatening to ‘Kill Me An N-word’  

“It is believed that the initial interaction between Barry and Mr. Cranston began when Barry complimented Mr. Cranston’s girlfriend,” said District Attorney John Hummel, per CNN. “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.” 

Cranston was reportedly “not happy” Washington had complimented his girlfriend and after exchanging words, the two started fighting. Hummel said the situation was “not going to get out of hand” before Cranston pulled his gun from his waist band and shot the victim. 

Cranston’s attorney Kevin Sali has a different timeline of events and said, “Indisputable video evidence shows that before Ian Cranston ever drew his weapon, Barry Washington had assaulted him without provocation, resulting in head injuries that required the police to take Mr. Cranston to the hospital where a brain scan and other procedures had to be performed.” 

RELATED: Missouri Democrats Advocate Against Death Penalty for Black Man

Despite the fact Cranston is white and Washington is Black, Hummel said he did not seek a hate crime charge due to lack of evidence, but they will ask the grand jury to add it later if race is determined to be a factor. 

Sharon Reed and Mike Hill discussed the “stomach turning” tragedy on Start Your Day, with Reed herself saying she was both triggered and disgusted by the news. 

“When I hear the line in the story about there’s no evidence that the victim did anything inappropriate, on the one hand I’m triggered,” she said. “On the other hand, I think it’s necessary to protect his legacy and his integrity as a Black man.” 

The hosts went on to remember Emmett Till, a 14-year-old boy whose murder and subsequent legacy touched “the fabric of America,” per Reed. 

RELATED: Man Sentenced for Racially Motivated Attacks on Neighbors’ Home in Michigan 

Till was killed in August 1955 while visiting family in Mississippi. Carolyn Bryant, a white store worker of 21 years old, accused him of whistling at her. Till supposedly grabbed Bryant by the waist and made sexual gestures toward her. Bryant’s husband Roy and his associates kidnapped the teenager four days later. Bryant identified him, and her husband drove to a barn, lynched and viciously beat the teen before taking his body to the Tallahatchie River’s bank. It was there he was shot in the head, tied with barbed wire and dumped into the water. 

Hill said he is also triggered, especially as a Black man who feels forced to be and act a certain way to avoid certain labels. 

If you or someone you know is struggling or needs someone to talk to, resources are available for you here.

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