Barry Comment Critical of Asian Business Owners

While celebrating his Democratic primary victory in Ward 8 Tuesday night, D.C. Councilman Marion Barry delivered a remark apparently critical of Asian business owners.

Barry spoke of changes in the ward, saying he’s worked hard for economic development in the city’s poorest ward and will continue to do so and saying something needs to be done about Good Hope Road and Martin Luther King Avenue.

He also seemed to criticize Asian shop owners who operate many small stores in the District.

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

Neither News4 nor Barry’s staff could reach the four-time former mayor Wednesday to get clarification about the remark.

Mayor Vincent Gray said he hadn't heard about Barry's comment.

"I think you know what I stand for," he said. "And that is everybody having an equal opportunity in the District of Columbia."

U.S. Pan Asian American Chamber of Commerce President Susan Allen, a 40-year D.C. resident and former Barry appointee to a minority business panel, said Barry’s comment surprised her.

“I was very surprised that this came out of his mouth,” she said. “Marion Barry has been a leader, he has been a mayor and he had worked on putting people together. We should utilize people like Marion Barry to put people together so that the Asian-Americans who have made the decision to move into place like Ward 8, which need businesses to service them and provide them with the services and product they want and create jobs. Keep them there and help them work together so that the two sides of the community can come together, become a positive change.”

Allen plans to reach out to Barry for clarification.

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