Former mayor wants Asians out of Washington, DC

Marion Barry (Reuters / Micah Walter)
Marion Barry, the former Washington, DC mayor infamously caught on camera smoking crack (only to be re-elected), has once again found himself in hot water. This time, though, it was making a crack that has gotten Barry in big trouble.

Barry, the multi-term mayor of the District of Columbia that achieved international notoriety due to a videotaped drug deal more than 20 years ago, is once again answering questions about what critics say was a comment that he should have kept to himself. Barry was victorious in a landslide win during D.C’s Council primaries this week, but was arguably less than stately while addressing supporters in a post-election speech.

Speaking after his Council Ward 8 primary win on Tuesday, Barry said that he still has some work ahead of him in regards to cleaning up the neighborhood, and he can start by doing something about all of those Asians and their filthy stores stinking up the community.

“We’ve got to do something about these Asians coming in, opening up businesses, those dirty shops,” Barry said to supporters. “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.”

Less than two days after Barry broadcast this statement, the backlash has already been a big one as critics continue to come down hard on the politician. Several lawmakers in the neighboring state of Maryland have asked for an apology, but for the man about to begin yet another term in the District of Columbia, backtracking seems out of the question.

“At best, Mr. Barry’s attack on Asian Americans is deeply troubling, and at worst it is race baiting,” reads a statement from five Democratic delegates from Maryland, which came only hours after Tommy Wells, a fellow DC councilman, called Barry’s blurb as “deplorable.”

Responding to these claims, however, Barry insists that he is in the right. ”I’ve spent the last 50 years of my life fighting for justice and equality of all people,” Barry responds, reports The Washington Post.

Addressing the Maryland lawmakers’ allegations that comments could be rendered racist, Barry adds that the truth is quite the contrary.

“Those five people don’t know Marion Barry at all. They know my name; they don’t know my record,” insists Barry.

As that backlash continues to snowball, Barry is also adamantly insisting that he said nothing inappropriate. Rather than offering an apology, however, Barry has instead tried to support his claims, taking to his Twitter account to tell his side of the story. To prove his point, Barry has tweeted a series of photos from DC eateries that offer Asian cuisine this week, condemning them for cluttering the neighborhood.

“These are the kind of businesses that need 2 improve. We’ve cleaned up Ward 8 in so many ways & most businesses r good,” Barry captioned one photo he tweeted of a take-out counter.

“Just like the owners of these bizs want the best for their families & communities so do we. The ? Is: will they join the Ward8 Renaissance” reads another tweet.

“Funny how folk expect us to sit down, shut up and expect lower standards than what they enjoy in their communities,” he explains in another, accompanied by the hashtag “#NOT.”

The District’s current mayor, Vincent Gray, responded to the Washington Post on Thursday that he was “deeply disappointed” by Barry’s remark.

Barry was the mayor of D.C. from 1979 through 1991, during which he was investigated by federal officials for alleged drug crimes. Following his highly publicized arrest for cocaine possession, he served six months in prison, only to again be elected mayor in 1995.