Washington: A controversy-prone former mayor
has landed himself in a soup again, this time for his remarks
targeting "dirty" Asian shops in his poor black-majority
district, a racial slur that invited all-round criticism.
Washington D C Councilman Marion Barry, 76, who just after
winning a primary on Tuesday declared that "we got to do
something about these Asians" had to apologise quickly after
his comments ignited anger.
Addressing his victory rally after being nominated by the
Democrats for a third consecutive term in DC Council, Barry
said: "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 take their places,
too," he said.
Barry apologised two days later after being hit by a
barrage of criticism, and said he made a mistake by referring
to a particular group.
He said he was actually he was trying to refer to vendors
who do not hire locals or sell unhealthy food with high
"I`m very sorry for offending the Asian American community
... although (my remarks were) taken out of context by many
about the conditions of some Ward 8 carryouts," he tweeted
after the uproar.
He said in a statement that he was referring only to some
Asian American businesses that don`t contribute to the
"It is to these less than stellar Asian American
businessmen in Ward 8 that my remarks were directed, not the
whole of Asian businessmen in Ward 8 or, the Asian American
population," he said.
While Asian organisations condemned the remarks, Mayor
Vincent Gray said he "deeply disappointed".
"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," he said.
Barry was in 1990 served six months in prison after being
videotaped smoking crack cocaine.