Councilman Marion Barry formally apologized Thursday for recent comments he made about Asian businesses and Filipino nurses, but inadvertently made another offensive remark in the process.
The former mayor spoke at a joint news conference with Asian-American advocacy groups following a closed door meeting at Matthews Memorial Baptist Church in southeast D.C.
The meeting wasn’t a warm and fuzzy affair. Terms like “oppression Olympics” and accusations of un-Americanism could be heard, News4’s Derrick Ward reported. Barry called the discussion frank.
Afterward, he pledged to be more careful with his words. “I apologize effusively for any hurt or any harm I did with anyone, but apology is not enough if you’re going to continue to do it,” he said.
Barry then used a term for Polish immigrants that is also considered offensive. “The Irish caught hell, the Jews caught hell, the Polacks caught hell,” Barry said.
The comment came just as Barry pledged to be more careful in choosing his words. Barry later apologized -- again.
“I misspoke," he said in a brief statement. "I should have said, Polish.”
Barry came under intense scrutiny in April after he said the District had to do something about "Asians coming in and opening up businesses and dirty shops." Later in April, Barry also made controversial remarks about the number of Filipino nurses in area hospitals.
Ward 8 resident Geraldine Page agreed with Barry’s earlier characterization of Asian businesses that are dirty, though she said she doesn’t have a problem with Asians.
Barry said he hopes to make Ward 8 a model of "diversity and inclusiveness."