Sunday, June 3, 2012

Marion Barry's remarks on Asians' 'dirty shops' ignite criticism after primary win

April 6th, 2012
04:09 PM ET

Marion Barry's remarks on Asians' 'dirty shops' ignite criticism after primary win
[Updated Friday at 4:09 p.m. ET] Washington Councilman Marion Barry said Friday he could've rephrased his controversial remark about "dirty" Asian businesses in his district, but he refused to back down.

He said his adrenaline was flowing after Tuesday's primary victory, when he made the comment, and that he merely was trying to convey that the business community in his Ward 8 needs a new attitude. Asians run a large percentage of the ward's stores and small shops, he said.

“I said something that I probably could have phrased differently. What you mean is the same. You’re not going to have people who are exploiting us in this community. They’re going to be part of the community. We welcome all businesspeople here … but give us some jobs.”

Several lawmakers, including the D.C. mayor and some of Barry's fellow council members, condemned his remarks - criticism Barry downplayed earlier this week. CNN's Athena Jones, who interviewed Barry on Friday, also spoke to Korean shop owner Helen Lee, who said she was angered by the councilman's castigation.

"We work really hard to keep our facility clean and to serve, like, this community. We've been here for over 20 years now," said Lee's daughter, Miriam. "So it's really insulting for him to come out of the blue and say that we're dirty and that, you know, we should be replaced, basically because we've been here for so long."

Told of the Lees' sentiments, Barry again disregarded the criticism, saying, "Leadership requires leadership."

"If she’s mad at me, tell her put some money in this community. Hire some people in this community. Give money to various organizations in this community, " he said. "If she’s mad, then do something about it.”

Barry further said that his remarks were not divisive because of his past civil rights record, and he blamed the media and political opponents for making his remark appear prejudiced. Asked if he would retract the statement, Barry appeared to say he would not.

“First of all, these people don’t know Marion Barry’s record, don’t know my commitment to the Asian and other communities, don’t know of my commitment to justice and injustice in Washington, all over the country. Fifty years I’ve been fighting. I get strong support from the Asian community."

Jones pressed him again on whether he would retract the statement and he replied, “I’ve done everything I’m going to do, and I’ve made my position clear. We’re not going to take this disrespect from anybody – black, white, Hispanic, anybody else.”

Asked if he had any message for the shop owners he was addressing in his Tuesday victory speech, he said, "Get busy. Hire some D.C. residents, Ward 8 residents. Clean your stores up, those who didn't clean up. Be a part of the community. Don't take all their money to Virginia or Maryland. Leave some right here in this community. We want it. We will demand it."

Barry capped the interview by pontificating on why he is constantly the subject of controversy and media scrutiny.

"Well, because I'm doing such a great job. I'm doing a fantastic job. My political enemies, the haters and the other kind of people have got to to find something to do. They attack Marion Barry. That's all. They ought to do something else."

[Posted Thursday at 7:22 p.m. ET] Washington Councilman and former Mayor Marion Barry spent Thursday firmly defending, explaining and elaborating upon on a comment many feel was disparaging to Asians in his district.

The remark came Tuesday, following his victory in the primary to retain his Ward 8 council seat. During a speech about the dire need for economic improvements in his ward, the city's poorest, Barry said, “We've got to do something about these Asians coming in and opening up businesses and dirty shops."

He continued, “They ought to go. I just tell you that right now, you know. But we need African-American businesspeople to be able to take their places, too.”

WRC-TV in Washington, which originally aired the speech clip, said that a reporter went to his home and campaign office for clarification but was unable to find the councilman.

Barry did not immediately return a CNN voice mail message or e-mail requesting an interview, but a series of tweets from his Twitter account today claim his remarks were blown out of proportion.

"My comments were taken out of context and construed as disparaging 2 entire Asian biz community. We DO deserve our bizs t/b nice places in W8," read one.

An earlier tweet said, "WE can do a better job. I do NOT disparage the Asian community, but the fact is there r some bizs that can do better." The second tweet linked out to a photo of a beat-up storefront that The Washington Post identified as a Chinese carry-out restaurant in Congress Heights.

The Post reported that a Facebook page demanding an apology from Barry has been launched, while the Mayor Vincent Gray and several D.C. council members and Maryland lawmakers have denounced Barry's remarks.

Barry told the Post that his critics need to “get to know Marion Barry and his stellar record on civil rights.”

”I’ve spent the last 50 years of my life fighting for justice and equality of all people,” he told the paper. “Those (critics) don’t know Marion Barry at all. They know my name; they don’t know my record.”

He further cited his outreach efforts to the Asian community, "including a sister city relationship with Beijing, helping to erect the Chinatown Friendship Archway and establishing the city Office of Asian-Pacific Islander Affairs during his four terms as mayor," according to the paper.

Barry then went on to defend his condemnation of Asian businesses.

“Let me make it clear, I’m not castigating any group of people. I’m not doing anything except trying to have a renaissance of our community and get some respect. A number of these restaurants serve high caloric food, bad food, etc., but the more important thing, they don’t participate in the community. ... That’s what I object to, I don’t care who it is."

When The Post asked why he targeted Asians in his remarks, Barry responded, “Because that’s reality. Who owns these little restaurants? Who owns them? You know, Asians. ... Ninety percent of all the small restaurants in Ward 8, at least.”

Noting that the latter statement couldn't be verified, the newspaper further quoted Barry as saying, “We’re spending our money there, and we demand respect. We demand they participate in community affairs. We demand they give jobs to Ward 8 people regardless of their cultural situation. That’s as American as apple pie.”

Barry is no stranger to controversy. In fact, he's a lightning rod for it.

Dogged by allegations of cocaine and alcohol abuse during his first three mayoral terms from 1979 to 1991, Barry was arrested in 1990 after a famously televised police surveillance tape showed him smoking crack in a hotel room. He was sentenced to six months in prison after a possession conviction.

More recently, he has had run-ins with the IRS over his failure to file tax returns and pay taxes. In 2006, he was suspected of driving under the influence and driving with a suspended license in separate incidents. He was found not guilty of the DUI charge, and the state said a computer glitch erroneously reported that Barry's license had been suspended.

In 2002, police said they found "apparent" traces of marijuana and cocaine in Barry's car but didn't arrest him, and in 2009, he was arrested for stalking, a charge prosecutors later dropped.

He reclaimed his seat in the mayor's office in 1995 and was re-elected to the City Council in 2004.

No...No..NO..! Mr. Marion, we do not need to kick out Asian Americans (or any other American for that matter) in order for Africa Americans to succeed and definitely America dosen't need your bigotry. African Americans are capable as any other Americans to prosper on their own merit. And prosper on their own merit they must, without your opinion and your racial bias methods. Our minds rebel against the thought that for African Americans to prosper other Americans must be subjugated. We reject you and bigotry, and cry out loud in disgust..NO...NO...NO...!

April 9, 2012 at 12:32 pm | Report abuse | Reply
Bob Loblaw
I don't see the media calling this comment racist like everything else. Heck no, Crackhead says this and allows him to talk his way out of the corner.
Sadly though, most family run businesses aren't hip on upkeep and maintenance. How many times have you wanted a receipt after buying gas at the gas pump only to find out there's no receipt paper, or window washing squeegees, or toilet paper in the bathroom. They usually operate on a minimum budget, as long as the doors are open for business, if I don't need to mop the floor, why should I?

April 9, 2012 at 12:33 pm | Report abuse | Reply
Richard Dunigan
marion barry is a black one time (?) crack head who can say anything he wants, like jesse jackson, and al sharpton, and get away with it.

April 9, 2012 at 9:40 pm | Report abuse |
J Cab
It shows the double standards that we have in society. If a whiteman , Asianman or whomever says something about an African Amercian there RACISt! But if an African Amercian says something about anyone else. They've been oppressed because of slavery. What about the Amercain Indain, The Itlains, and now the Latinos again. Wake the hell up, his comments were RACIST! And no less coming from a crackhead like Berry! Call a Spade a Spade, now don't take that as racist! But some uneducated idiot will

April 9, 2012 at 4:05 pm | Report abuse | Reply
TOTALLY agree!

April 9, 2012 at 8:52 pm | Report abuse |
Richard Dunigan
The Slavery Card left, when General James, General Powell, Ms Rice, and of course Obama came in. It was not the American White Man that enslaved the african, it was his own people the captured and sold them, and they are still doing it to this day.

April 9, 2012 at 9:44 pm | Report abuse |
Nebraska Steve
Wow. That was pretty stupid. Maybe he'll get elected to another 4 years.....

April 9, 2012 at 4:39 pm | Report abuse | Reply
Freedom is not Free
Mr. Barry, have you ever been into a restaurant that is run by African American? Last year in my city there were 11 African-american owned restaurants busted by health code violations and 6 of them busted for selling counterfeit DVDs and suspect drug activities. Asians don't sell drugs out of their restuarants. I guess Mr Barry wants more blacks to run restaurants so he can get his cracks easily.

April 9, 2012 at 8:17 pm | Report abuse | Reply
Bill Cosby ? lol

April 9, 2012 at 8:25 pm | Report abuse | Reply
I cannot believe this moron is still around. Unreal. Citizens of Ward 8, you deserve every ounce of the crappy representation you'll get for voting for this idiot.

April 10, 2012 at 5:15 pm | Report abuse | Reply

You mean it's not okay to be racist if you're black?

April 5, 2012 at 9:55 pm | Report abuse | Reply
It's not okay to be racist at *all*, period.

April 5, 2012 at 10:02 pm | Report abuse | Reply
Okay Mommy....

April 5, 2012 at 10:13 pm | Report abuse |
Now go clean your room!

April 5, 2012 at 10:48 pm | Report abuse |
If you have never lived or gone to school in a Black neighborhood when you lack transportation, you have no idea what it is like. I remember living this life in college. I stopped going to one particular Asian restaurant in the area when I asked for an extra napkin and the proprietor refused. I kid you not, he had given me ONE napkin and refused me another after I had PAID for my food. In city after city I have gone to Asian restaurants who have no respect for the Blacks who keep them in business and I make that my last visit. So many do not keep the cleanliness standards that are upheld in other neighborhoods. Unfortunately, so many Blacks simply tolerate this behavior, as they are beaten down after having been told all of their lives that contempt is their fate. They tolerate the dirty stores with the high prices and the open contempt. I have NEVER encountered such problems from Asian stores in other neighborhoods, in fact I have been treated very kindly in those establishments. I am the same person whether I am in a Black neighborhood, a White one or a mixed one.

April 5, 2012 at 10:08 pm | Report abuse | Reply
Perhaps he was responding in accordance to the respect that he is normally shown with his other customers.
Of course, if there are as many restraurants as Mr. Berry implies, you have a wide variety of other places to spend your money.
As well you should....

April 5, 2012 at 10:26 pm | Report abuse |
Perhaps if you could speak to your "brothas and sistas" and tell them to stop being abusive, racist, violent, and low class- the proprieters would be nicer to you. It never fails when I go to a restaurant and see every single table with blacks giving waitresses and bar staff hell. You reap what you sow. Become civilized and perhaps they will give you napkins. Or keep reelecting someone like Marion Berry and never end your vicious cycle. How could anyone respect a people who elects a former crackhead, felon, and open racist over and over again?

April 6, 2012 at 1:29 pm | Report abuse |
Which boil down to why you lack transportation to begin with? Because you're lazy, broke, no educations, resort to criminal activities. Why do most businesses including Asians dislike blacks? Because you brought it onto yourself. When will blacks realize this?

April 6, 2012 at 6:06 pm | Report abuse |
Bob Loblaw
Once again, someone else complaining about something because of their race. If you do not like the way you are treated at a business, you have the choice to leave and never come back. As for not having transportation to school, you have heard of walking haven't you? You think people 60 years ago or 100 years ago used the excuse of not having transportation to school? The choice for learning is there if you want it.

April 9, 2012 at 1:09 pm | Report abuse |
ha marion barry, what a crack-smoking loser. now a certified racist. blacks everywhere should be ashamed to have a pathetic leader like this; if not, they will be forever chained to their inner city ghettos.

April 5, 2012 at 10:08 pm | Report abuse | Reply
Sad but true.

April 5, 2012 at 10:15 pm | Report abuse |
Hey, why are you acting like Marion Barry represents all black people? Why does one guy being racist set you off on a tirade about an entire race? Look in the mirror.

April 5, 2012 at 10:18 pm | Report abuse |
@fj: if they can look past him being a crackhead, i'm sure they can look past this.

i was stationed at naf washington when the video came out, and used to take a cab into dc to party in georgetown.

that part of town, then, was one of the most depressed, drug infested areas in the country. good people, if they find themselves there, don't stay there, much less live there.

he keeps getting elected because he's one of them.

April 5, 2012 at 10:30 pm | Report abuse |
CNN, were these "white Asians" or just regular Asians?

April 5, 2012 at 10:12 pm | Report abuse | Reply
good comment! shows how dumb CNN and Barry are (plus the other Barry)

April 5, 2012 at 10:14 pm | Report abuse |
Jim Stanek
u could said Marionberry is a Black Black.

April 5, 2012 at 10:31 pm | Report abuse |
Sagebrush Shorty
Hispanic Asians

April 6, 2012 at 1:32 pm | Report abuse |
This meme cracks me up! As most people with a brain KNOW Asians are not White and part of the mongoloid race. Blame all these groupings of race on early anthropologists. However, Hispanics can be Asian...or Black...or whatayaknow...WHITE!!! Hispanic is not a race idiota. Stop repeating what you've heard from trolls on the internet and do some research or something.

April 6, 2012 at 1:57 pm | Report abuse |
if you can find a black owned store, it will be so nasty and full of welfare deadbeats, you would not dare to go inside.

April 5, 2012 at 10:13 pm | Report abuse | Reply

April 5, 2012 at 10:20 pm | Report abuse |
I sincerely I no respect for him. I sincerely, sincerely, sincerely, sincerely think he needs a new job.

April 5, 2012 at 10:16 pm | Report abuse | Reply
consider the source.

what would you expect marion barry to say? the guy has always been a goof.

complaining about what marion barry says is like complaining about poo stinking..

April 5, 2012 at 10:19 pm | Report abuse | Reply
Heh heh, you said "poo"...

April 5, 2012 at 10:29 pm | Report abuse |
@ shut_up, this IS an open forum blog, you need to apologize to ms west, who has just as much right to voice her opinion as you! And it seems a more educated one even!

April 5, 2012 at 10:19 pm | Report abuse | Reply
Black people should not have freedom of speech

April 5, 2012 at 10:21 pm | Report abuse | Reply
Another proud day for African American leadership in America.

April 5, 2012 at 10:21 pm | Report abuse | Reply
In the “Land of the free”, no one dare utter a word without first mentally going through a list of whom it might possibly offend. All this PC bull sh$t has got to go or we’re soon be looking and sounding like Stalin’s USSR, if we aren’t already...

April 5, 2012 at 10:26 pm | Report abuse | Reply
For once, I agree with this idiot.

April 5, 2012 at 10:28 pm | Report abuse | Reply
And most likely you're a racist too. Not putting you down for it though, as most people are racist on some level. I've yet to meet someone that does not harbor some kind of racist views.

April 5, 2012 at 11:07 pm | Report abuse |
Jim Stanek
Sounds like he'd support Chinese Exclusion Acts, but not Jim Crow Laws. Lousy bigot.

April 5, 2012 at 10:30 pm | Report abuse | Reply
Normally, Asian businesses don't like to hire blacks at all. They think blacks are lazy or not clean. Blacks don't tip much. Sorry, but it's true. Marion Barry is the one of the best leader that they have. That's sad.

April 5, 2012 at 10:32 pm | Report abuse | Reply
@alex: you don't get out much, do you? i wager you know very few black leaders.

April 5, 2012 at 10:41 pm | Report abuse |

(mochi thinking)
he is too honestest man....

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