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Dear PoPville – Can We Talk About Marion Barry’s Comments for a Sec?

by Prince Of Petworth April 6, 2012 at 11:00 am 130 Comments

Photo by flickr user JamesCalder

Dear PoPville,

My friends and I are particularly enraged by the most recent comments from Marion Barry about Asian business owners during his victory speech. Would be great for readers to see this and help start a movement that makes it clear that this kind of bigotry is not acceptable in any form in the District of Columbia – especially from elected officials. These unacceptable comments need to be addressed by the Mayor and the rest of Council…

Quote from Fox 5: “We’ve got to do something about these Asians coming in, opening up businesses — those dirty shops” Barry said Tuesday night after winning the Democratic primary for the City’s Ward 8 Seat and effectively securing a third council term.

Barry went on to say “They ought to go. I’ll just say that right now, you know. But we need African American Businesspeople to be able to take their places, too.”

Ed. Note: Sorry I was unable to post this yesterday, I was away from my computer in the afternoon.

Fox 5 has since posted that CM Barry has apologized:

“In a statement, he says he is “deeply apologetic for any harm that I have caused.”

On Tuesday night in the hours after securing another primary victory for City Council in Ward 8, Barry told his supporters this:

“We got to do something about these Asians coming in and opening up businesses and dirty shops. They ought to go. I’m going to say that right now. But we need African-American businesspeople to be able to take their places too.”

But until about 4 p.m. Thursday, Barry refused to back down, telling reporters in his office the Asian merchants needed a new attitude. Barry criticized the merchants for not reinvesting in the community and suggesting the ward would be better off with merchants from Ethiopia.

  • classic_six

    Shame on you, Prince, for being away from your computer and delaying this newsworthy post. Even Fox beat you to the punchline, so now it’s no longer newsworthy, it is inflammatory.

    • anon

      In defense of PoP, I do not view this site as a place to go for breaking news (no offense PoP :)). I think the site is intended to provoke thoughtful discussion and get different people’s viewpoints. This topic is still a matter of discussion on a number of other blogs/media sites, so I don’t know why PoP should be any different.

      • classic_six

        Thanks for defending Pop. I have a cheeky streak, so my post was actually being cheeky.

        • anon

          And I am a little slow today…it’s been a long week. After I hit ‘post,’ I thought, maybe I’m reading that in the wrong way. Like I said, I’m slow. :)

          • classic_six

            all good.

    • The Prince was making a guest appearance on the Washingtonpost.com Going Out Gurus’ “Got Plans?” live chat:


      I must say he kept very quiet about it on his own site! :)

  • Anonymous

    It’s amazing how he singled out Chinese take-out places. Has he ever frequented the disgusting corner stores/liquor stores in that part of the city? Oh wait, they’re run by African-Americans so all is well in his eyes. He is disgusting.

    • Anonymous

      You’d think that a practical and logical question could address all of Mr. Barry’s problems with these “dirty” establishments: “What can we do to attract other, perhaps ‘better’ businesses to Ward 8?”

  • bb

    He can still be defeated in the general election…

    • Anonymous

      That’s not going to happen.

  • live from Columbia Heights

    Unbelievable this idiot was actually mayor of our city.

    • DC Voter

      Just as unbelievable that the current guy is mayor of our city. They really aren’t that different.

  • Anonymous

    It’s kind of clear at this point that a majority of people in Ward 8 share his opinions/views. That’s what’s really offensive. Why else would they keep electing him…this isn’t exactly the first questionable thing he’s said/done.

    • Wobber


  • P12 Special w/ Wings

    WOW. Just wow. This is absurd. And I know that pic is from 2006 but it is hilarious (in a totally effed up crazy way!). I mean, just re-read the first sentence. The Marion Barry spell is a pretty potent spell…

    (And not to get off track buut… um, I’m pretty sure African-Americans are pretty loyal customers to a lot of the ‘Asian merchants’ in his ward).

  • marybindc

    Here’s the problem: it’s Marion Barry. Not only are we used to him saying this tripe, but we know that no amount of pressure/petition-signing/yelling is going to change things. He’s not going to step down and he’s not going to be defeated in the election. He’ll just turn it into another “triumph” about how once again “the man” tried to silence him but he emerged victorious. I guess by now I just save my ire for other things (like, you know, the REST of the corrupt Council)

    • +1

      Not sure why people continue to get up in arms about the crazy stuff our fine Mayor For Life does/says. Every few years he stirs up a controversy. I think we’re probably better off ignoring his crazy until a viable candidate steps up and ousts him.

  • Anonymous

    Fact is, this city is filled with people of the same mindset and “values” who see themselves in Marion Barry and think that is ok, fine and dandy. This is how he always gets reelected and why the city is in such a shape. There in lies the problem. Ward 8 does not want somebody better who will do better they want somebody like them, they want a free turkey, not education and jobs, they want housing vouchers not safe neighborhoods. Simple fact, this happens because of a majority vote, and there in lies the rub.

    • Anonymous

      Way to fight a stereotype with a stereotype!

      This kind of view is popping up every day here in DC. Its like certain people view DC in a post-black light now that it has value… We’re all people with goals and ambition, and all races have negative examples of humanity.

      Why not just look at it as Marrion Barry saying something stupid (on an individual basis) than a mob of black people supporting him? There are plenty of intelligent black people in DC that earn and contribute more than you do to DC, even business owners who want to make the city better. You do a great injustice by labeling it a system of dysfunction, yeah DC had issues in the past, but back then nobody BUT poor people (mostly of color) wanted to live here… It was not all “reimagined” once you decided to move in.

      • Anonymous

        the people in ward 8 defend barry’s comments therefore they are guilt of harboring the same opinions.

        also it has been known for same time that a lot of AA dont like the asians running stores in their hood (check out the boyz in the hood movie)

      • What gives?

        “Why not just look at it as Marrion Barry saying something stupid (on an individual basis) than a mob of black people supporting him?”

        But isn’t that exactly what we see every time he gets re-elected in a landslide, despite all his racist, classist “mispeaks”, his tax evasions, and (to put it politely) his issues with crack cocaine?

        It seems like all he has to do is blame “the man” or some other racist outside force and he’s the champion again. Sure, a lot of what you say is true, but how else would you explain his resilience? Could you even imagine a white, Latino or Asian political figure surviving any one of these scandals, let alone ALL of them?

        • What gives, do you know where Chicago, Providence, New Jersey, or Louisiana are?

          • What gives?

            I don’t know about Providence or NJ, but I’m well versed in LA politics. You’d have to name me a politician there that was convicted of drunk driving, possession of crack cocaine, tax evasion, AND has been spewing racist drivel for decades that is still firmly in power in his/her district.

            Monetary corruption, back room deals and crony kickbacks, sure! Absolutely. There’s an endless line of those. But even they end up in prison sooner or later — where you’ll find (long overdue) Edwin Edwards, by the way.

          • I see. Abusing public office is better than drug use, it’s OK if they’re corrupt as long as they haven’t been convicted yet, and there’s no racism in the state that brought us David Duke and the Danziger Bridge shootings. Oh, and David Vitter just needs to work out some issues with his family. Thanks for educating us on the moral superiority of Louisiana public servants.

            I’m no fan of Barry or the fact that he keeps getting re-elected, but let’s not pretend that this is just a Ward 8 thing – or that there is a long line of serious candidates fighting for the chance to do right by Ward 8 instead of him.

        • Jack5

          George Bush, Dick Cheney, Elliot Spitzer, Arnold Schwarzenegger, John Kerry, Kim Jong Il, Hugo Chavez… I could go for days in proving the invalidity of your statement. Its not about race as much as you’d think, its about politics being a dirty game, and too many people generalizing what actually happened based on some crappy reporting done on TV. We’re not qualified to assess things, we’re just people typing on the Internet who “think” we know the truth.

          • What gives?

            I get your point that there’s no shortage of bad apples (although I think we go well beyond the scope of Ward 8 when we start talking about Korea and Venezuela. After all, I thought it went without saying that the topic was race relations in this country).

            How many of those that you list were convicted of drunk driving, possession of crack cocaine, tax evasion, AND has been spewing racist drivel for decades and remains (ed) firmly in place with an overwhelming support of his constituents?
            I’m coming from the position of race relations and how they can be used to prop up an obviously deeply flawed character because he pretends to stand up for “his people”.

      • Anonymous


  • It’s a reminder that virulent racism can be found within every community and that The man has been & will continue to be a stain on the image of DC. Unfortunately, he’s not alone – plenty of other Councilmembers are jokes but keep being re-elected.

    • classic_six


  • Anonymous

    As someone who has lived in Petworth for over 20 years now, the majority of stores that have been in DC, including chain restaurants like KFC and McDonalds had been habitually dirty for years until recently when gentrification took hold.

    Until about 6 years ago, the best places to eat uptown were Chinese food carry outs, not just run by Chinese people to be fair, but by Korean people as well (majority-wise). There were also many liquor stores and “convenience” shops that were extremely sub-par. I recall several time seeing convenience shops in Petworth that had out of date canned goods and lots of unsanitary conditions, even rat poop visible on the floors. The state of most of these Chinese food take out spots was usually sub-par. It was amazing they got away without a massive amount of health code violations, If you don’t believe me, check out Yums on Georgia Avenue next to Howard University, or the Safeway just above there that everyone in the neighborhood can’t wait to get demolished.

    Though Barry was ignorantly wrong in his assessment, it should be discussed why certain businesses seem to always be off the inspection radar for cleanliness and quality in DC.

    • Anonymous

      YES. Thanks very much for this comment.

  • Florista

    What an A$$. He’ll never go away, either. Sorry for this city.

  • blank stare

    Double standard much? Funny he can stir the city up with race baiting statements like this. I find it ironic that he is concerned about the cleanliness of the asian eateries while most of Ward 8, which is 97% black, is a litterpile and the housing stock is dumpy and crumbling.

    Ward 8, under his leadership, has gone nowhere beyond a Giant and a IHOP in 2007. Henson Ridge is a disaster and the public schools have day care centers and an unbelievably hi dropout rate. Are there any leaders in Ward 8? Who is showing this population how to grow and prosper in Washington DC? Who is going to step up and help Ward 8 break this cycle because it doesn’t appear that marion barry is going to.

  • Barry has been vomiting this kind of crap for decades…this isn’t new.

    Despite all his claims to the contrary I’ve found that Barry is the biggest racist in the District, and believe me, there are some Congressmen from some podunk racist dtates living here, so Barry has really excelled. Whatever civil rights credibility he had, he spent in full 20 years ago and MLK is rolling in his grave.

    But Ward 8 loves him for it (or atleast the overwhelming 70% of them who voted for him do). Why? Because they see nothing wrong with being a serial cheating philanderer, crack addict, decades long tax scofflaw, DUI driving, decade long probation drug test failing, sexist felon. And in the two or three times he has actually gone too far with Ward 8 in the past 30 years, he just shows up at some random church on Sunday morning in SE, takes the pulpit and gives his patented “They got me like Jesus” speech, and 5 minutes later all if forgiven.

    Any other public official in this town would literally have been run out of town decades ago for any one of the issues Barry has on his record.

    In the end, you can’t blame Barry for being Barry any more than you can blame a mosquito for biting you. It is his nature. We all know it and it isn’t a secret. No, the blame lies within the bounds of Ward 8, and the overwhelming percentage of residents who enable and support their beloved felon-racist who despite what he says, has left Ward 8 worse than where it was when he came to town despite the economic boon and makeover every single other ward in this town has experienced.

  • It’s unfortunate that commenters are saying that Ward 8 shares his beliefs on this subject. I’m sure some Ward 8 residents do agree with him. Many don’t. So don’t try to say that a vote for Barry was a vote for racism. These were remarks after he was elected and not some sort of campaign slogan. Keep the heat on Barry, but let Ward 8 residents speak for themselves.

    • @Theheights,

      C’mon…so what if it was after the election, Barry says this crap ALL the time. Just last month he went on a racist tirade about the white architects at Ballou Highschool. There are literally hundreds of published examples of his no holds barred racism and Ward 8 votes him in by enormous majorities each time.

      Does “each and every” ward 8 person agree with Barry. No, but the bulk do and have done so for decades.

    • This is not intended as a snarky question, but where are the Ward 8 residents who are upset over this? Have the ANC reps spoken out? Neighborhood groups?

      I’m honestly struggling to understand how this sort of thing can stand unless there is either a majority of voters standing in support or standing idly by.

    • Alex

      theheights – If this was the first racist comment he had made, then your call to withhold judgment of Ward 8 voters would be valid. However, Barry has a history of racially offensive comments that everyone in the city has witnessed over the course of many years (in my case for the past 22). Yet, the majority of Ward 8 voters continue to elect him despite example after example of his racism and bigotry. This means that the majority of Ward 8 voters are ok with the racists comments and the rest of the city has every right to assume that continually re-electing him is an indication that they support all of his views, including the bigoted ones.

      • I’m very familiar with Barry’s misadventures – I’ve been in DC since he was mayor. I agree that he’s not held to normal standards and that he’s a buffoon. I just don’t agree with painting a whole ward with a broad brush. After all, every time a Columbia Heights newcomer states they want to tear down public housing and “get rid of those people,” is it any different than what Barry said? Replace “dirty Asian stores” with ” criminal-creating public housing” and replace “African-American businesses” with “luxury condos and hipster bars.” Does that mean every resident of Columbia Heights a racist or “classist?” I am at a loss as to why he keeps getting elected – mostly because he’s done so little for his constituents. But I suspect the more white people vilify him, it raises his status among certain blacks in the ward who see their vote as a way to put a thumb in the eye of the Ward 3-types who they see as being the real power on the city. Therefore, some might support his racism, but some might see a vote for Barry as a protest against the fact that the city across the river is often neglected. O’m not defending that logic, because I think it’s been self-defeating. I’m just trying to come up with answers.

        • classic_six

          +1 (I know you don’t need anyone validating your point(s) but I largely agree with many of your sentiments.)

          • Thanks. In PoPville, we’re probably a constituency of two. Oh well, that’s what makes it interesting.

        • A dirty Asian store has never broken into my house.

          • Anon

            I’ve never broken into your house either….your point is?

          • That complaints about dirty stores and public housing are not morally equivalent. One poses an active threat while the other does not.

          • So public housing constitutes an active threat to you? Did you catch the person who broke into your house? Was he or she from public housing? You’re proving my point all too well.

          • Yes, pubilc housing does pose a threat as a quick review of where crimes are committed and their relation to public housing reveals. There is no middle or upper class crime spree going on. If the public housing went away, crime would be reduced. Do you dispute this? If not, what is your point?

          • My point is that I’m asking you to prove yours. You implied that public housing occupants were behind a burglary at your house (a point you’ve neatly let drop). I’m merely asking you to prove that. Wouldn’t a better course of action be to increase policing and have more serious consequence for law-breakers than to shuffle the lower-class yet law-abiding occupants somewhere else? After all, they probably were there before you.

          • I don’t know who broke into my place as the cops never caught them, but my guess is that it wasn’t a lawyer who broke in during the middle of a weekday. I’m in my 4th DC neighborhood and never had a problem with crime until I moved half a block away from public housing.

            Even if some Capitol Hill staffer did break into my place, however, your point about some equivalence between criticizing dirty Asian stores and public housing is ridiculous. One is making an explicitly racial statement, while one is not. One poses a threat to people — as the crimes stats attest — and one does not.

          • As I stated below:

            “My point about the hypocrisy of the gentrifiers is that saying you’d like to bulldoze public housing (to Hell with the occupants) to make room for luxury condos is just as galling to many as Marion Barry saying that he’d like more African-American businesses in place of Asian businesses. Both are examples of “move the Other out so my people can take over.” It was expressed in a racial context by Barry, but it just as easily lends itself to a socio-economic context as well.”. And, I may add, Barry’s comments are indefensible.

            You moved a block away from public housing. If you know that individuals from that complex are causing crimes, then you have to get the police to arrest them, which would put their presence in public housing in jeopardy. Everyone who lives there is not a criminal and should not get pushed out just because you think the neighborhood has to change.

        • Identified

          +1 again.

          absolutely agree with your points. Well f’ing said.

        • Make it 3.

        • Jack5

          Barry gets re-elected because as a council member he hasn’t cracked down on bad business and those “dirty stores”. A lot of the stores in question are run by residents who re-elect Barry because he hasn’t watched over those businesses for years, allowing them to continue to make money without having to renovate.

          I hear lots of people complaining about “landslide elections” where he is re-elected. There is no such thing, voter turnout for council elections is tiny compared to mayoral elections (which are still small numbers). The people that show up to vote in council elections are often scabs, paid by business owners to re-elect people, residents don’t turn out to vote in these situations. The only time I saw a large turnout in a Mayoral election was when Barry ran versus Williams. To say that Ward8 keeps re-electing Barry is pretty uninformed, this is politics, more like a “dirty chess game” than a “fair game” of cards.

          • 59% of registered voters in Ward 8 turned out to vote in 2008 General Elections, which was greater than the national average voter turnout that year. 90% of those voters voted for Berry.
            Please, provide me with your definitions of “tiny voter turnout” and “landslide”. Because I’m pretty sure the 2008 stats indicate good voter turnout and a (cough) landslide victory.
            And spare me your conspiracy theories about scabs–I’ll grant you a suspicious look at 90% in national elections, but precincts are far more uniform in voting patterns.

        • U Street

          +1 again @ theheights
          I appreciate you trying. (Sigh) Unfortunately, I’ve given up on trying to explain to the PoP audience that not all AA are the same.

        • Anonymous

          @ Heights

          I am the poster you commented on. Barry is elected by people who live in ward 8, that is a fact, if you vote for him it is because you believe in him and want him to speak for you, that is what the whole voter process is all about. I did not say all people in ward 8, I said the majority which is a fact since a majority voted for him to win the primary. facts are facts.

          Now for a personal view of the rest of your comments. I think that Blacks look at the color of their skin as an issue rather than the results of their actions. If anything derogatory is said about a person of color, many blacks think it is about the color of their skin not the actions that were performed by the person. If someone says section 8 housing is a problem and move “those people” out, may be they are referring to people who cause crime, trouble and trash problems, may be they don’t mean “black” people even if it just so happens to be in DC that the majority of section 8 housing is occupied with black people.

          Personally I could care less if my neighbors are Black, White, Asian or otherwise. I care about how they act, how they present themselves and if they are going to cause me headaches. Behavior is something that can be changed by a person, one can choose what level of life one wishes to live, what values one wishes to hold. If a person lives next to me and is a good respectful neighbor as I try to be, who cares about the color of their skin? Certainly not I.

          I am going on record as saying that not all Black people in DC follow in this stereotype. There are good and bad people of every race every where you go. I am saying that in DC, if someone is going to rob me , high chances are they are going to be black, if someone is going to stab or shoot me, high chances are they are going to be black, if someone is going to snatch my phone from my hand, high chances are they are going to be black, if someone is going to spray paint a wall or throw trash on the ground, high chances are they are going to be black, If I hear racist remarks, high chances they are going to come from a black person. This list can go on and on and on. Now here I bet you are thinking you are having your point proven because you are looking at what can’t be changed, the color of skin. I am looking at what can be changed, attitudes, values, ideals, wanting something better by working to be better. All people in DC could use some work in that area but clearly the majority of black people in DC need to step up their game. Any black people that are in that “good neighbor” category should live as examples to other black people in DC to help bring them into a better life. Anyone that claims “black” is the problem is doing so to avoid having to work to change. If we all drop the “black” and look at the actions, then we can move forward into knowing better and doing better and really removing this spot on our history of “racism”. If people hide behind “black” then it will never change. There is nothing wrong with being black, white, red, or yellow, stop defending it at the cost of everything else. Look at reality, if there is a problem, work to change it, don’t hide behind the race hustle to keep a low status quo.

          Start by putting Barry on the street and showing the world you won’t be held down by your color any more. You want better, you will do better and you are taking your first step.

          I challenge you to try something different. I am guessing you don’t live in Ward 8 so I am not talking about Barry here. I challenge you to forget “black” the next time you feel you hear something derogatory about a “black” person. Remove the color of the skin and look at the actions then create your judgement. If we keep doing what we are doing we keep getting what we are getting, simple fact.

          • Ok, where to start? “Facts are facts.” – A majority of Ward 8 voters did not vote for Barry. A majority of the minority of registered voters who voted in the primaries voted for Barry.

            Also, I’m not sure why you’re imputing an obsession with skin color to my argument. My point about the hypocrisy of the gentrifiers is that saying you’d like to bulldoze public housing (to Hell with the occupants) to make room for luxury condos is just as galling to many as Marion Barry saying that he’d like more African-American businesses in place of Asian businesses. Both are examples of “move the Other out so my people can take over.” It was expressed in a racial context by Barry, but it just as easily lends itself to a socio-economic context as well.

            As for your “challenge,” I’m not sure where in my comments you got the idea that I condone or excuse actions because of the color of somebody’s skin. I reject the invitation to destroy your straw man and suggest that you might want to accept your own advice.

          • “Ok, where to start? “Facts are facts.” – A majority of Ward 8 voters did not vote for Barry. A majority of the minority of registered voters who voted in the primaries voted for Barry.”

            Your just wrong. 77% of the people who voted, voted for a crackhead. The rest of the people who didn’t vote (either because they aren’t registered, or didn’t bother to show up) are just as guilty. The 85% of the ward who didn’t show up, were implicitly accepting Barry’s victory.

            However, the ~15% of the people who did show up, voted for a Barry. The rest of your argument falls on deaf ears. Sure, there are a couple of people who say bulldoze the public housing. However, Ward 4, or Ward 1, or Ward 3 didn’t elect those people.

            Sitting councilmembers need to be held to a much higher standard, and as mentioned in my first paragraph, W8 approves of this guys actions and character. Sure, maybe they vote for him because in some misguided belief, they think he sticks up for them. Ultimately, you make your bed, and you have to sleep in it.

          • I’m not surprised that my argument falls on deaf ears – showing that the prevailing attitudes among so many “benevolent gentrifiers” are questionable and not that different than those they revile is bound to be uncomfortable for them. All I can point it out – I don’t expect them to accept it. As for your theory that non-voters are culpable for election results, that might be true. But apathy and support for racism are two different things and therefore I think it’s foolish to look at this in a vacuum and to pillory all of Ward 8 for the ravings of one man.

      • Anonymous

        The 100 residents that show up for council member voting do not represent the entire ward… The assumption is stereo-typically wrong and driven by the same ignorance as Barry’s comments. Only a massive idiot would believe that everyone in ward 8 show up to vote for council members.

        • Or the 4500 that showed up to vote for him you mean…but go ahead, keep swinging at those windmills and looking at Ward 8 with those rose colored glasses.

        • ~25,000 Ward 8 voters turned out for him in 2008
          ~46,000 registered Ward 8 voters in 2008

          While not a “majority” of the ~70,000 residents of Ward 8, it is a majority of the registered voters.

          • Jack5

            Strategically picked statistics, from the past,,, Here’s reality:

            Only 4,574 people voted for barry out of 70k+ residents in the 2012 Primary. HARDLY A MAJORITY. Also, you have to look at the weak quality fo candidates running against him, none of them even managed to make 1,000 votes.

            SOURCE: http://www.voteresults.org/?STATE=DC

            Stop fabricating B.S. in support of your false premise.

        • Anonymous

          Strategically picked statistics, from the past… Here’s reality:

          Only 4,574 people voted for barry out of 70k+ residents IN THE 2012 Primary. HARDLY A MAJORITY. Also, you have to look at the weak quality fo candidates running against him, none of them even managed to make 1,000 votes.

          SOURCE: http://www.voteresults.org/?STATE=DC

          Stop fabricating B.S. in support of false premises.

          • Apparently general election stats are “strategically picked”. News to me. When someone says no one shows up to vote, or that we’re misrepresenting the Ward in the comments, don’t you think it helps to know the actual numbers? These aren’t cherry-picked, and I certainly didn’t boast that 25,000 voters constitutes a full majority of the population. The 2008 stats aren’t “from the past”, they are the reason Berry is the incumbent, ie, a majority of Ward 8 have ALREADY VOTED for him.
            Now, we can talk about primary votes narrowing candidate pools, leaving a voting bloc without much choice–that would be a case of a minority having outsized influence over the majority’s general election votes. But there’s always the write-in option…

          • anon

            Elcal, I can’t tell if you’re being disingenuous or if you genuinely aren’t familiar with how D.C. politics work.

            When it comes to local elections, D.C. — like the American South before the 1950s or so — is a one-party environment. The Democratic primary is the real contest, because in most cases, it would be impossible for a Republican to win in the general election.

            So citing the number of voters who voted for Barry in a general election isn’t especially compelling. Even if Ward 8 voters were ambivalent about him, what are they going to do — vote for a Republican instead?

    • caballero

      The few times I have heard him interviewed on the Kojo Nnamdi show, he has said veiled or even openly racist things. And this isn’t even at some church or community event….it’s on a public radio program. He’s an embarrassment, but soon enough, he’ll be dead, and hopefully the people of his ward will have better choice of candidates to support.

  • dcd

    He’s gonna keep getting elected as long as he’s alive. At this point, the only entity that can deliver DC from Barry is the federal court system. If the prosecutors and more importantly, the judges, did their effin’ jobs, he’d be inthe clink right now for tax evasion and contempt of court. If it was you or me, we certainly would be.

    • Anonymous

      Maybe we should get Charlie Sheen, Robert Downy Junior, Dog The Bounty Hunter, or Mel Gibson to clean this city up! I just listed a bunch of corrupt drug abusers that have gotten many second chances! Yet also happen to be non-black (and some racists). We’re all in the same boat, we all have insensitive people in our ranks that make stupid comments, Stop being ignorant about it.

      • You are kidding right?

        I didn’t know Charlie Sheen or Dog the Bounty Hunter were publically elected officials.

        And for the record, Barry is on his 386th “second chance”.

        Thank you for identifying yourself as one of the many Ward 8’ers in this town who supports him. I hope you like Ward 8, it is of your own making.


        • Anonymous

          “Thank you for identifying yourself”??

          Seriously dude, step back from the judge seat and try to get what I was saying there. I did NOT vote for Barry, he hasn’t been relevant since 1989, a tiny council seat is a big fall from grace of his earlier years. He’s served jail time, he’s lost tons of money, he’s been audited and is now a tax slave to the IRS. I have never done serious drugs but i have enough compassion for him as a human being to know the comments he made were because he’s old and growing senile. I’m pretty sure everyone’s parents and even some of us say things far worse than what he said.

          Put this in perspective. Besides, I don’t live in ward 8, I live in Petworth. when you assume, you make an ass out of u and me.

          • What gives?

            “i have enough compassion for him as a human being to know the comments he made were because he’s old and growing senile.”

            You’re making excuses for him. You KNOW he says these things because he’s senile? If he’s mentally incompetent then he needs to be removed from office.

            Anyway, how do you account for these same kinds of comments that he’s been making for over 20 years? Has he been senile for two decades?!

          • And when you and folks like you continually go out of your way, year after year, decade after decade to defend this defensless waste of oxygen and tax dollars you make an ass out of the entire City.

            Senile? He has been saying the same crap for nearly 3 decades so unless you are blaming all of that on being old and crazy, I think you need to come up with another non-believeable defense of the poor ol crack head.

          • Anonymous

            “You and folks like you”

            How can you tell what kind of person I am through the Internet? Have you hacked my webcam?

          • Anon,

            Quit with the cognitive dissonance. You and people like you = Barry apologists.

            “Clearly” that was confusing, considering we’ve been talking about Barry apologists for hours now.

  • neednewhob

    A serious embarrassment to this city. Good riddance. I am amazed at the people who vote for this guy based on the recognition of his name — stained as it is. I can’t imagine them voting for him solely based on his policies.

  • Chris Rock

    The most racist people are old black men! He went through real racism back then. He couldn’t go through that “I-can’t-get-a-cab” thing. Back then, he WAS the cab! A white man would jump on his back and yell, “Main Street!”

    • SomeSillyAlias

      Get it. The transplants of this city and some of the born and bred will never get sick of lashing out at Marion Barry. He’ll never tire of riling you up either. He says what he means and doesn’t give a sh*t. This man with a Masters of Science in Organic Chemistry got his start in politics by standing up to racist cops on a burnt out 14th street, getting arrested on the corner of 14th and U, a corner which he would later help revitalize. As corrupt as he was (and let’s not be fooled, all of them are, not just the dark ones… have a look on the Hill), he is part of the fabric of this city. The city YOU ALL live in. Go ahead and keep on hating, he’s not going anywhere. Not even if the government spends another $36million to watch him try to get some ass. Years from now, he’ll be larger than life and your opinions of him still won’t matter. P.S. ALL of those carryout, bulletproof glass establishments are permanent toilets all over the city. They are all dirty and I’m shocked they pass health inspection…. Ward 8, just like other parts of the city, deserve choices that are not limited to fried wings and mumbo sauce.

      • “Ward 8, just like other parts of the city, deserve choices that are not limited to fried wings and mumbo sauce.”

        So what’s stopping you from opening up a competing store?

        • Anonymous

          that’s not my line of work. but i’ll gladly support a harris teeter there to give the constituents OPTIONS for healthy food. we can’t ALL do EVERYTHING.. if that’s YOUR line of work, perhaps you should rock out on an establishment there

      • Anonymous


        I’d like to have a discussion about this in a public forum, that would be interesting. It seems like non-black (fairly new) residents to DC are beginning to get angry about the racial landscape in the area now that they have moved in.

        I see a lot of angry words typed about the older DC administration without realizing the same people they are putting down are good people, but have been living with that reality much longer than they have.

        If you don’t start with mutual respect, it always turns into a war of words.

      • anonymous rex

        If you don’t like crappy dirty restaurants, don’t patronize them. Then, regardless of the race of the owner, they’ll cease to exist.

        Barry’s statement(s), as well as yours, suggests that someone is only allowing one racial group (Asians) to own and operate food-serving businesses in Ward 8. Here’s a suggestion: why don’t you and Barry ask DC’s black entrepreneurs, particularly those with thriving businesses in NWDC, why they aren’t opening restaurants in Ward 8?

        • Anonymous

          i stand by my statements. the only mistake Barry made was using the word “Asian”…. if he had said, “dirty carryouts” we wouldn’t be discussing this…. he is an older black man who has had race thrown in his face for as long as he’s been here. All he wants to see is his people SUPPORT their own. that’s all he’s saying. he’s telling us blacks to support our own businesses…. there is NOTHING WRONG or RACIST about that. that’s what he’s about. giving opportunities to those who wouldn’t have them otherwise. there was a time where people of colour in this city could get NO GOVT CONTRACTS because of the corrupt political nature (that hasn’t changed much)… but when he came in he gave people OPPORTUNITIES….. black businesses prospered in a time where no one else was trying to hire blacks PERIOD. NOT giving them an IOTA of a chance. Because Marion came along, there are SEVERAL black firms who do mighty fine work, prosper and add this great city who got their start with Barry. Sh*t on it all you like, he’s a maverick and that’s that. It’s not like he’s the only egotistical, jerk maverick out there… they are a dime a dozen. Take a look at your own home town, I’m sure you can find a few

  • Re. the OP’s remark that “These unacceptable comments need to be addressed by the Mayor and the rest of Council”:

    I think the OP must’ve written his/her e-mail sometime yesterday before Vincent Gray and Council Chairman Kwame Brown released statements. As far as I can tell, the chronology went like this:

    – Tuesday night: Barry makes offensive remarks.
    – Wednesday night/Thursday morning: Media outlets report what Barry said.
    – Thursday late morning (?): Barry refuses to back down from remarks (and adds fuel to the fire).
    – Sometime before 2:30ish Thursday – Gray and Brown issue statements.
    – Late Thursday afternoon – Barry backs down.

    From Mike DeBonis’s 2:35 p.m. update on the Washington Post website:

    UPDATE, 2:35 P.M.: Top District leaders have responded to Barry’s comments in statements this afternoon.

    Mayor Vincent C. Gray (D) said he is “deeply disappointed” by the remarks: “There is no room in this wonderfully diverse city for comments that disparage anyone on the basis of race, ethnicity, gender, religion, disability or sexual orientation. Our energies are better spent focused on building everyone up rather than tearing anyone down.”

    Council Chairman Kwame R. Brown (D) said he “strongly disgree[d]” with the remarks: “Statements like that are divisive, destructive, and have absolutely no place in our city. The District’s character is enriched by the wonderful diversity present throughout our communities.”

    Mike DeBonis’s blog item (and updates) on the story from Thurs. 4/5:

    Mike DeBonis’s blog item from Wed. night, 4/4 (with link to video):

    Mike DeBonis’s article in today’s Washington Post (Fri. 4/6):

  • ET

    I am not sure why anyone bothers to pay attention to anything that comes out of his mouth. He is half dead and living off his glory days. He is one of those politicians that stays too long but it is all he has and if he gives it up he has nothing. And coming at the end of a life, it likely that he feels that he will die not long after giving it up.

    Ward 8 residents continue to reward him with re-election based on what he did for them back in the day (in his first term). Which is fairly standard practice all over the US. I am sure that many continue to vote for him because they know it pisses off those like many on this blog – basically a protest vote. Sure this means that they end up with crappy representation sort of a cut your nose off to spite yourself. But again this is fairly common behavior all over the US.

    Voters putting him back in the mayors office and then on the city council after his long term “vacation” courtesy of Uncle Sam baffled me. But then I remembered, that the voters of Louisiana continued to vote for Edwin Edwards. ‘Course in one of those elections he was running against David Duke when the popular slogan was “vote for the crook its important.” So while yes I wish he would just retire and let someone new come in, I don’t live in Ward 8 and have a high tolerance to political embarrassment due to growing up in New Orleans.

  • Anonymous

    I was really hoping this wouldn’t blow up but since it did I think everyone should read about the black family who struggled to find black-owned local and small businesses in their communities.

    Marion Berry is a horrible, skeevy politician and what he said was racist drivel. But the fact remains that most small-business in majority black areas like Chicago aren’t owned by the minorities they served.


    “…the worst thing was what we learned about economies in black neighborhoods. We assumed, just like other little ethnic enclaves like Little Italy or Greek Town or Chinatown, that for predominantly black neighborhoods all the black businesses (hair salons, grocery stores, restaurants, beauty supply stores) there would be owned by the local people. But easily over 90 percent of the businesses on the West Side—and it’s the same way all over the country—are owned by people who are not black and do not live in that community. So it’s not a “buy local” thing, because these folks set up shop in the black community, sell their wares, make their money, hardly ever employ the local people there—and they put the steel bar over the door, pack up at 6:30, get in their car, drive to their suburb, and take that money with them. And that was the whole reason that these communities suffer the way they do: The everyday exit of the wealth in those neighborhoods directly leads to social crises there.”

    • Matt G

      Marion Berry. Worst Ben and Jerry’s flavor ever.

      • classic_six

        This is almost brilliant.

    • What a ridiculous tribal mentality. A lot of the stuff I buy is made in China — so what? I do business with whoever can give me the best service at the cheapest price, regardless of race or ethnicity.

  • svi

    to be fair to him the asians set him up.

  • man in the mirror

    haha! well done. you managed to argue your point with even more sterotypes.

    • man in the mirror

      woops! intended for anon 11:21. sorry about that.

  • LR

    Sorry to say but he is right, these carry outs accross the city not just ward 8, could careless about the community they work in. They just want to make as much money as possible and go back to VA. They are dirty, they don’t clean up around there store, and they have no community interaction.

    Now Barry was wrong for labelling one group with a broad paintbrush but a lot of what he said is true.

    Funny some of the same people calling him racist, are the sames ones crying about the liqour store, corner store, etc.. with plexi glass still in the stores.

    • svi

      too true, those yuppies don’t care about plexiglass-americans

    • Hey now, I have to give props to the corner market at 4th and East Capitol. They are super friendly, active in the community, and the store never feels icky. If I’ve ever had a problem with a product, they’ve taken it back no questions asked, and have even given me an IOU when I didn’t have enough cash on me.

      I think there’s a definite problem with code enforcement that allows these shady businesses to stay in operation. Maybe Barry should use his omnipotent powers to fix that.

      • Anonymous

        I love that shop!

  • anon

    The HBO(?) doc about Barry explained everything. He’s untouchable among his constituents. It was an amazing thing to watch. I’m not suprised by anything he does anymore…including his ability to continue getting elected despite his laundry list of “missteps” (to put it nicely).

  • Anonymous

    What an a$% clown

  • anonymous

    Watch the documentary done on him a while back by HBO (or something like that) and you’ll see that in the beginning of his years as a DC politician he showed promise, delivered, etc. Then it started crumbling and he became just one more messed up person screwing up, asking for forgiveness, and getting it.

    Jack Johnson did the same thing in PG County recently–he’d barely been tried when he was saying, “For all have sinned, and fallen short of the glory of the lord,” which of course is code for, “Forgive me so I can move on without feeling your punishment.” I don’t understand this kind of forgiveness and second chances. Where I come from, it’s ok to forgive, but the forgivee has to feel chastened and act quite differently than before in order for the forgiveness to stick. There’s no shame and humility in the sort of from-the-pulpit, out-of-the-congregation forgiveness that this city gives, and that baffles me. Maybe it’s the “it takes a village” thing–we can’t afford to ostracize any member of the community–but (again) where I come from, useless members of society and frequent offenders get marginalized, all for the greater good of the society as a whole.

    I think Ward 8 is missing out on the “greater good” that they could get if they actually had a good politician serving them instead of having this race bater keeping the pot stirred to distract from the real issues.

    • Anonymous

      Or one could take the perspective that it’s a great ad wonderful thing that the black community in America is so forgiving.

      • anonymous

        One could if it actually moderated or improved the offenders’ behavior. But it doesn’t sound like it does.

      • Forgiveness of repeated idiocy, especially of those in elected office, is no virtue.

  • Anonymous

    Like Barry , I also prefer stores that are owned by people that live in the neighborhood. I’m lucky that in my neighborhood I can frequently do that.

    • Anonymous

      What’s stopping the people from Ward 8 opening up their own shop in Ward 8?

      • anonymous

        Answer: capital, lack thereof.

        I don’t see the average corner store as being that much dirtier than the sidewalks and empty lots of the neighborhoods they serve. I think it’s kind of funny that Asians are chastised as having dirty stores when it would seem obvious that so many of their clientele are responsible for the filth outside—e.g, chip bags tossed down when empty as opposed to being put in the nearest trash can. Or, god forbid, taken home and put in the trash can there.

        So I can see why the owners would think, “What the hell, sell the goods, get back in the car, and go home without cleaning up.”

  • Otis Gal

    Yes they are dirty and disgusting but someone in Ward 8 is keeping them in business.

  • I love that he doesn’t apologize for his comments, just for the harm they may have caused.

    In defense of Ward 8, I’m sure a lot people see themselves in Barry. Even if they don’t agree with some of the things he does, they probably think he understands them better than new transplants and “gentrifiers.” And as a population that probably feels increasingly marginalized in this city, he’s standing up to “the man.” The way in which he does it is probably completely self-serving and ineffective, but no one else is, at least not as visibly. I don’t agree with this sentiment, but I’m at least trying to rationalize it, beyond just saying they’re all racists too.

    And on a side note, I once sat next to him while waiting for a prescription at the Eastern Market CVS and while he was super friendly to the people who came up to him, he was a total jerk to the pharmacists. Just rude, and refused to wait like everyone else.

    • His car probably was double-parked, so he was in a hurry.

    • anonymous

      It took me a long time to realize that as a tall, blue-eyed male I am seen as “the man”. I naively thought that “the man” was the federal government (quaint, huh!), but, in part by having been called “whitey” by blacks in this city way more than “faggot” by anyone anywhere, I see that I (who came up from nothing, got almost no help from my low-income parents, and earned what little bit of real estate and income I have) can be stereotyped too–that with a single glance the assumption can be made that I am the embodiment of the oppressor.

    • Anonymous

      Sadly those who feel that he’s standing up to “the man” don’t seem to realize that in Ward 8, he is “the man” and has been for 30 years+.

  • anon

    I live in downtown Silver Spring where there are TONS of Ethiopian-owned storefronts. To be fair to Marion, almost all of them are pretty darn good!

    But obviously he’s a racist waste of air.

  • Kim

    I hear Barry’s actually grooming his son for his council seat.

    • Anonymous

      oh joy! his son is another crackhead addict that’s been arrested a few times

  • Anonymous

    If Barry is so concerned about dirty shops, he should enforce health regulations related to stores and restaurants. Also, everyone keeps talking about how he’s done so much for Ward 8 but they don’t go into detail. Like what has he done? The only thing I know is that Ward 8 isn’t so great. I also know that he’s shady and did a crap job as mayor.

  • Anonymous

    Look, Barry’s comments are horrible but I’ve been to some of these shops in ward 8 and many of them, whether or not they are run by Asians or not, are FILTHY. But that’s partly because of the demographics of the area. And that should be acknowledged too.

    • ET

      I am not going to acknowledge the “quality” of the “demographics” at all. MOST PEOPLE (regardless of color, religion, ethnic background, geographic background, etc.) don’t won’t to shop at dirty places.

      The quality of a place is only crappy IF THE PEOPLE OWNING/RUNNING IT DON’T FUCKING CARE. By saying what you are saying you are basically giving them a pass to run the business like crap because of the “demographics” of their customers. You wouldn’t put up with that in your own neighborhood and would loudly complain all over PoP if it came up for discussion.

  • The Real Mr. Poon

    I’ve been trolling PoP for this post waiting to plead with PoP readers and commenters: Those of you who consider yourself transient, who are renting but have the ability to buy, who are still registered to vote in your home districts, this city needs you. Please consider buying property here, consider registering to vote here, and consider getting actively involved in DC politics. Consider settling in DC proper. We need you.

    We might not be able to do anything about Ward 8 for the time being, but we’re awfully close to gaining a critical mass that will put a permanent end to these sorts of politics being acceptable in this city. The city is about to pass the Marion Barrys by, and if Ward 8 is the last one electing people who would offer such racist, ridiculous comments, then they’ll be the ones who are embarrassed instead of us for showing this guy on CNN and having it written about in Politico.

    Washington is one of the most remarkable cities in the world. We’ve continued to grow despite one of the worst recessions in our country’s history, and with the economy improving and more people moving in, our future looks fantastic. We’re in the beginnings of a great renaissance. We need your kids in our schools, we need your interest in the community, and we need it to be official. Please help us end the political embarrassments that are all too common by voting and demanding better.

    • adam

      +1 gazillion

  • Anonymous

    That’s typical Berry Race Baiting. His mentality, and that of those who suport him, is the reason why Ward 8 will continue to struggle. If the shops are so bad, why are they still operating? Nobody’s forcing Barry or anyone else to go to them. Or better yet, how about Barry and his supporters open their own shops in Ward 8 and see if they can do a better job? The sad fact of the matter is Barry a racist and his campaign thrives on racism and conspiracy theory. That’s the only thing that gets him re-elected: the us versus them attitude.

  • don
  • anon

    What’s even worse is after he apologized, he said, “Me Chiense, me play joke, me go pee pee, in your Coke.”

  • anon

    What’s even worse is after he apologized, he said, “Me Chinese, me play joke, me go pee pee, in your Coke.”

    • Sad

      Thank you. That was so enlightening.

    • anonymous

      I’m sure he did. And I forgive him for this, too.

  • I think Barry is a jerk. That being said, I lived near H street when it was still “the Hood”the local Korean owned store sold canned good that was ALL out dated or had dents. I then had the pleasure of paying more than what it would normally cost in the supermarket. I was desperate and purchased some butter when I realized it was pass its sell date, I returned it only to find out ALL the butter in the store was out of date. That is when I started looking at the sell by date for other products in the store. Then I gave my payment to some frightened soul behind a barrier. People don’t like being treated like trash.

  • Jay

    Barry just telling the truth. More power to him.

  • let’s ignore the fact that he’s right and focus on his past and/or the racial implications of his remarks!

    • Sweetsound

      Hell yeah! Racial implications only matter when it’s black people who are on fuzzy end of the lollipop. When they’re the ones sticking it to people, then there’s got to be some good reason or truth behind it.

  • Anonymous

    The Asian shops are dirty (period), BUT the way he said it was racially insensitive.

  • Julia

    Could this be personal because Marion Barry lost his DNC chair to an amazing Asian-American, Gregory Cendana? http://gregoryfordnc.com/

    The seat represents DC Wards 1, 2, 6 and 8. Gregory Gregory, who is the Executive Director of APALA (Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance), the AFL-CIO’s API labor arm, during his day job, is one of the city’s most notable rising young politicians… losing the DNC chair to a 25 year old Asian-American could have been the ego blow Marion Barry needed to set him over the edge.

    PS I didn’t campaign for the guy or anything. I was just very impressed when I met him… as were most people… which is probably why he won…

  • Anonymous

    New ‘Say Sorry Barry’ petition for Marion Barry’s remarks. http://www.saysorrybarry.com/


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