On Saturday, September 18th, Barry Washington Jr., a young Black man, was murdered in downtown Bend. The murderer, Ian Cranston, was initially charged with manslaughter, meaning he was accused of killing someone unintentionally and was released on bond a couple of hours later. Cranston’s Facebook is covered in casual uses of the n-word, but the justice system treated him leniently despite the clear indications that Barry Washington’s murder was not an accident. Thanks to powerful organizing led by the Central Oregon Peacekeepers, yesterday the charges were increased to murder in the second degree. After massive community pushback, Cranston’s arraignment will take place TODAY (Friday, October 1st) at the Deschutes County Courthouse. Join the Central Oregon Peacekeepers on the steps of the Courthouse (1100 NW Bond St, Bend, OR 97703) at 1:30 pm.
Take action today to support Barry’s family and Central Oregonians organizing for justice:
➤ Email District Attorney John Hummel at John.Hummel@dcda.us, urging him to pursue hate crime charges against Cranston to the fullest extent possible.
➤ Email Police Chief Mike Krantz at firstname.lastname@example.org to pressure his department to carry out their duties with full transparency.
➤ Email Bend Mayor Sally Russell at Srussell@bendoregon.gov and the entire city council at email@example.com to urge them to make sure the District Attorney and Chief Krantz are fully transparent in their investigation and prosecution of the murderer. Call on them to recognize that what Mayor Russel told Barry’s family, that “this never happens in Bend,” had just happened and to center the leadership of Black-led groups in responding to this murder.
➤ Donate to Barry’s family’s GoFundMe page for the costs of legal representation.
➤ Call Central Oregon Daily News at 541-330-7692 to demand accountability. News Director Matt McDonald lied to the public, stating he had permission from Barry’s family to publicly share a video of Barry’s murder (more context below!).
➤ Participate in the efforts calling on companies that advertise with Zolo Media (owners of Central Oregon Daily News) to revoke their support of the media outlet that publicized video footage of the murder without the consent of Barry’s family. Follow the calls to action on the Central Oregon Peacekeepers’ Facebook or Instagram.
➤ Join the demonstration demanding justice for Barry TODAY at 1:30 pm at the Deschutes County Courthouse (1100 NW Bond St in Bend) during Ian Cranston’s first hearing, and on Tuesday, October 5th at 9 am.
Are there other ways your human dignity group is taking action in support of Barry Washington Jr., his family, and Central Oregon? Let us know by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org and stay up to date on the latest by following Central Oregon Peacekeepers on Facebook or Instagram.
Organizing for Racial Justice
Right after Barry was murdered, Barry’s family talked to Bend’s Mayor Sally Russel who said, “this never happens in Bend,” despite the fact it just had. Since then, Barry’s family and local organizers have been working together to amplify the calls for racial justice in Bend, to demand transparency and accountability from police, the District Attorney, and local elected officials. The Central Oregon Peacekeepers, in consultation with Barry’s family, initially called on community members to email local officials to demand Cranston’s charges be increased from manslaughter to murder. Just yesterday, after hundreds of people emailed District Attorney Hummel, he announced that murder charges were being brought against Cranston and that he is now in jail again two weeks after being released.
Last week, Central Oregonians gathered Wednesday and Thursday to hold vigil, celebrate Barry’s life, and demand racial justice in Central Oregon. Black community leaders, Barry’s family, and friends spoke powerfully about the grief of losing Barry and the fear of who might be killed next. Barry’s aunt, Valencia Roberson shared, “Barry was a very kind-hearted, big teddy bear kind of guy.” School board member and Black community leader Marcus LeGrand called on white people to “show up daily” against racism, and said, “if the roles had been reversed, and that was a Black man that shot a white dude outside of a bar, he’d still be in jail right now from when he got arrested.” Last Thursday, the family shared a GoFundMe to help pay for legal representation to “ensure that justice is served” and so far the community has raised $51,500 in the last week alone.
The night of the vigil, Barry’s family heard that there was a video of Barry’s murder, but nothing was shared with them or the public until Monday. On Monday, the Central Oregon Daily News posted an obviously edited video they had received from Ian Cranston’s fiancé to their public Facebook page. Despite dozens of social media comments, phone calls, and requests from Barry’s family demanding that Central Oregon Daily take the traumatizing video down, they proceeded to play the video on the evening news, repeating one extremely short clip where Barry pushes someone off of him who is screaming homophobic and racist taunts at him, clearly attempting to repaint Barry’s murder as justified. This is part of a broader national pattern of miscategorizing deaths of Black people. One new study showed that more than half of police killings were misclassified under another cause of death including cardiac arrest, and that “Black Americans were 3.5 times as likely to be killed by the police as white Americans were.”
Gaining no ground by reaching out to the news outlet by phone, email, and social media, the Peacekeepers went to their office to see if they could speak with them in person. Shortly after arriving, Central Oregon Daily’s General Manager physically removed Peacekeepers from their office building and locked the doors. The Central Oregon Peacekeepers expanded their call to action, asking advertisers to remove their content from Zolo Media, the owner of Central Oregon Daily. Thanks to a flurry of peacekeepers researching and reaching out to major advertisers, Saxon’s Fine Jewelers, Hooker Creek Construction Materials, and OnPoint Community Credit Union all removed their ads and other associations with the news outlet. Organizers are continuing to pressure advertisers to drop their support by focusing on one or two companies at a time. To participate in calling on advertisers to revoke their support from Central Oregon Daily News, follow the Central Oregon Peacekeepers on Facebook or Instagram.
In response to this community pressure, Central Oregon Daily News removed the video from their site, but not before Director Matt McDonald falsely claimed that Barry’s family had given them permission to post the video. As soon as Matt posted this online, Barry’s mother commented on the post saying that she had not given any such permission. This has led the Peacekeepers to call for Matt McDonald to either resign or be fired in addition to calling for broader accountability from the news outlet.
Just last night (Thursday, September 30th) at 6:45 pm, District Attorney John Hummel announced at a press conference that Ian Cranston’s charges would be increased to six charges including murder in the second degree. Adding further evidence that it’s time for Central Oregon’s elected officials to get their act together around racial justice, Peacekeepers had to correct DA Hummel twice during the press conference because he stated incorrectly that “Mr. Washington” (Barry) was being charged with murder instead of Cranston. Cranston was arrested yesterday and he is currently in the Deschutes County Jail with a no-bail warrant. He has yet to be charged with a hate crime, and no charges have been brought against his fiancé, but Hummel claims they are continuing to investigate the case. In the press conference, Hummel specifically recognized the hundreds of people who emailed him urging that he take action, and appreciated the Central Oregon Peacekeepers in particular for their support in submitting evidence for this case.
The powerful and important organizing that Central Oregonians are doing is making an immediate difference, and now is the time to do the long haul organizing to make sure that the systems and culture that allowed this to happen are dismantled. Are there other ways your group is taking action in support of Barry Washington Jr.? Are you and your human dignity group ready to take action for racial justice in your community? Let us know by emailing us at email@example.com.