WASHINGTON (CBSDC) — Ward 8 councilman Marion Barry has again found himself surrounded by controversy following remarks he made regarding Asian businesses during a victory speech following his win in Tuesday night’s D.C. primary.
“We got to do something about these Asians coming in and opening up businesses and dirty shops,” Barry said at the time according to NBC 4. “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.”
On Thursday afternoon, Barry began Tweeting pictures of specific Asian businesses in his community, calling them out to do better.
Barry elaborated and stood by his position during an exclusive interview with All-News 99.1 WNEW’s Kevin Rincon.
His position is based on the economics of the situation and outside business owners not wanting to give back to the community.
“You need to understand Ward 8 and the condition we’re in and the condition we’ve been in over the years,” said Barry. “There’s 72,000 of us who live in Ward 8 with the highest amount of poverty — 35 percent. We have an income of $25,000 average compared to $100,000 a year in Wards 3 or 4. And we’re the poorest Ward in the city and it’s the highest unemployment rate.”
Although he says his comments from Tuesday night were taken out of context, his stance on Asian-owned businesses remained unchanged during his conversation with Rincon.
“In Ward 8 it just so happens that we have a number of restaurants, the little carry-outs we have, 90 percent of them are owned by Asians,” Barry stated. “And too many of them don’t participate in the community. They come in to our community, keep this place dirty and all this other kind of stuff, and take the money and leave.”
The 76-year-old “mayor for life” wants to attract more business owners who will actively participate in the community and not “exploit” its residents. Barry calls his plan a renaissance.
“We’re changing that attitude. We want everybody to come to work in Ward 8 . . . But we’re not going to let people come into Ward 8 and just exploit us, take the money and run. That day is done,” he said.
Despite the controversial remarks and a seemingly unwavering view on business owners in his Ward, Councilman Barry is proud of long history of relationship building he has with the Asian community. During the interview with Rincon he cited a 1984 visit to Bejing and his efforts in helping build the Friendship Archway on H Street in Chinatown.