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Thu04242014

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D.C. Councilman Barry blasted for remarks on Asian-owned businesses

Washington, D.C. Councilman Marion Barry has come under fire for comments he made about the Asian business community following his victory in a primary election.

Washington, D.C. Councilman Marion Barry has come under fire for comments he made about the Asian business community following his victory in a primary election.

 
 Former mayor and current Washington D.C. Councilman Marion Barry (Photo by Graeme Jennings/The Examiner)

According to The Washington Post, at an April 3 rally following his victory in the Ward 8 primary elections, TV cameras caught Barry speaking out against Asian-owned businesses in the District.

“We’ve got to do something about these Asians coming in, opening up businesses, those dirty shops,” Barry said, as filmed by NBC Washington affiliate WRC-TV. “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.”

Outcry from the business community and Barry’s colleagues was swift, with Ward 6 Councilman Tommy Wells calling the remarks deplorable, and five Maryland lawmakers of Asian descent speaking out against Barry.

“At best, Mr. Barry’s attack on Asian Americans is deeply troubling, and at worst it is race baiting,” the lawmakers said in a statement.

A statement sponsored by more than 30 local and national Asian groups also condemned Barry’s remarks.

“Councilmember Barry’s statement is of serious concern because it undermines the notion that developing the District of Columbia’s economy and neighborhoods is in the interest of all communities, regardless of national origin or ethnic background,” the groups said in the statement.

Barry took to Twitter April 5 to apologize for the phrasing of his comments, if not his concerns over the cleanliness of some Asian restaurants in Ward 8.

“I admit, I could and should have said it differently. But the facts are still very present in our daily lives here,” he tweeted. “We are tired of sub-standard treatment, tired of being kept (at) arm’s length distance, tired of the lack of community engagement.”

The coalition of Asian groups called upon Barry to make a more sincere apology. The councilman, however, said his statements were heartfelt.

“It (the apology) is as solid as Marion Barry can make it, and believe it, because I have a history of not doing anything to purposely disparage any group of people.”

Barry, who was born in Leflore County, Miss., grew up Memphis and graduated from LeMoyne College (now The LeMoyne-Owen College).

(Special to the NNPA from the Afro-American Newspaper)

 

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