Hummel Seizes The Moment

Central Oregon District Attorney John Hummel speaks out through his press conference condemning the murder of Barry Washington.


Art done by Danica Becerril

Eleni Adams, Staff Writer

On Sept. 22 the Deschutes County District Attorney, John Hummel, held a press conference in downtown Bend Oregon regarding the murder of Barry Washingon—a person of color—who was shot by a white man, Ian Cranston in Downtown Bend on Sept. 19. The decision of holding the press conference on the very street where Washington was murdered showed Hummel’s intolerance for racism and violence. Along with Hummel, the Bend community was outraged when they heard a Black man was shot in the heart of the community, possibly due to racial motives. The community showed their support for Washington by holding a protest and two vigils in downtown Bend as well as setting up a GoFundMe for his family, so they could give him a proper memorial. 

Hummel stood on NW Oregon Ave, where Washington was murdered just across the street. Hummel began the conference by stating a disapproval for how America has treated Black people in the past. 

“Our country has a disgraceful history of denigrating, prosecuting, and lynching Black men for talking to white women,” Hummel said. 

His indignation overwhelmed him as he mentioned the murder of Emmett Till, a 14 year old Black boy who was brutally assulted and lynched in 1955. Hummel connected both disheartening murders to shed a light on the lingering racism in America.

 In a recent Pinnacle interview with Hummel, he expressed how significant it was that Washington was murdered in the heart of the Bend community. Hummels decision to hold the press conference downtown was influenced by how the community as a whole was victimized, and the pain this crime caused to the people. 

“They’ve always been scared to walk the streets of Bend,” Hummel said, when referring to the multiple calls he received from the Black community. 

Because Hummel is white, he deeply needs to consider their experiences in Bend as well as the fact that Cranston is free until proven guilty. Hummel plans to contribute to the ongoing protest against discrimination and racism as community member, as well as a District Attorney. 

“When I served as a Bend City Counsilor, I introduced equal rights ordanints to the council to prohibit discrimination against people based on their sexual orientation,” Hummel said.

Hummel has been fighting for change in the community even since he started serving Deschutes County, “My entire professional career has been speaking out about issues of equality”, Hummel said. 

Hummel wanted to make it clear that he does not want to distribute more empathy towards one case more than another. “We as a community should not pick and choose our most favorite victims.”

The day after the Bend Police arrested Ian Cranston, the alleged murderer in the Washington case, they also arrested two suspects involved in the killing of Ray Atkinson and Natasha Newby, the couple that was found dead in their home in Aug. of 2020. Through tears, Hummel stated, “It’s very important that we acknowledge everyone who’s lost”.

After the first Vigil for Washington took place on Oct. 15, the memorial that was on the street where Washington was murdered was defaced by unknown perpetrators. The Oregon PeaceKeepers, a community lead organization for equity, held a second vigil for Washington in order to bring his memorial back to its former standing.

When Washington’s memorial was defaced downtown, Sohpia Ermisch, a senior at Summit Highschool as well as the schools equity coordinator was disgusted when she heard about the racist act. 

“I was hoping maybe we could come together and realize that it wasn’t a justifyable murder,” Ermisch said. As a representative for equality, Ermisch was disheartened that this event divided instead of unified our community. When Hummel heard about the defacement, he stated, “If we do find out who did it, they will be held accountable.” 

 Hummel used his voice and power to capture the significance of Washingtons murder. With the outroar from the community as well and the press conference from Hummel, Washington’s case has been brought a sliver of  justice. Cranston has been indicted of second-degree murder, first-and second-degree manslaughter, two accouts of unlawful use of a weapon and first-degree assault. Cranston is awaiting a plea trial for Dec. 7 and is serving time in the Deschutes County Jail.