- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 4, 2006

The robbing of former Mayor Marion Barry by two young men is just a normal part of life in Southeast, neighbors said yesterday.

“It’s not safe over here, especially at nighttime,” said Benaiah Gadson, who has lived at the intersection of Pomeroy and Stanton roads in Southeast since 1992. Mr. Barry “is cool with everybody, but there are people out there who are up to no good.”

Mr. Barry, 69, was robbed at gunpoint Monday night in his apartment in the 2600 block of Douglas Road by two young men whom he had paid minutes earlier to help him carry groceries from his car.

Police yesterday had made no arrests in the case.

Mr. Barry, who now represents Ward 8 on the D.C. Council, was arrested on crack cocaine charges while mayor in 1990. He said that he does not want authorities to prosecute the robbers if they are caught and that he “loves them.”

Crime in Southeast is something residents have grown accustomed to, said Dave Brown, a mental health counselor who has lived in the area his entire life.

“It’s living in Southeast,” said Mr. Brown, 45, pulling back his cap to reveal a gunshot wound behind his left ear that hospitalized him for 30 days in 2004 after a drug deal gone awry. “Only by the grace of God am I standing here today.”

Mr. Brown said Mr. Barry — who is a common sight in neighborhood barber shops and grocery stores — also could have brought the crime upon himself.

“He might have put himself in that situation unconsciously,” he said. “If I help you with some groceries and you give me $5 or $10, but I see $400 or $500, I’m going to start putting together a scheme to get that” money.

Raynette Bradshaw, a secretary at St. John’s Christian Methodist Episcopal Church on Stanton Road in Southeast, said she has noticed the recent spike in robberies.

“It’s gotten a lot worse than what it used to be,” said Ms. Bradshaw, 38. “You might get something like your purse snatched once a year. But now it’s more frequent where they’re going into people’s homes. Robberies are way up.”

Ms. Bradshaw said people were shocked to learn Mr. Barry was robbed. She said police presence and self-awareness in the neighborhood have increased since Mr. Barry, a Democrat, has been in office.

“I was in some government offices yesterday, and [after] everything he does for Ward 8, they couldn’t believe that they’d do it to him,” she said. “And I know [the thieves] knew who he was.”

One man, who did not want to be identified, said police cars frequently circle the area around Mr. Barry’s apartment complex.

“Shooting, robbing, smoking pot — they do all of that,” he said, adding that he wasn’t surprised to hear about Mr. Barry being robbed. “It happens around here all the time.”

Matthew Cella and Jeongki Lim contributed to this report.

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