- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 26, 2002

Reports that former D.C. Mayor Marion S. Barry has been found with suspected illegal drugs have split city Democrats over the merits of his quest for an at-large seat on the D.C. Council.
"He's got my vote, he's got my husband's vote," said Dorothea Ferrell, advisory neighborhood commissioner for 8A02 in Southeast. "The man is good, and when things are good, they always try to knock you down."
"Marion Barry is our David Duke," said one national Democratic activist who lives and votes in Adams Morgan, referring to the Louisiana politician with ties to the Ku Klux Klan. "I will vote for a Republican hands down before I would vote for him. He ran this city into the ground."
U.S. Park Police on Thursday night found trace amounts of marijuana and cocaine in Mr. Barry's car, which was parked in the Buzzard Point section of the city. The amount found was insufficient to press charges, U.S. Park Police spokesman Scott Fear said.
Officers also noted a white powdery substance around Mr. Barry's nose, which Sgt. Fear said the police did not test. He said Mr. Barry was cooperative during the investigation.
Richard Westbrook, ANC for 2D01 in Southwest, said all the facts needed to be told about what happened Thursday night but no matter what, Mr. Barry should not run.
"I think it would be very precarious [for him to run now,] even if it's proven that he has not fallen off the wagon," said Mr. Westbrook, a longtime Barry supporter. "This might be enough to get people concerned, and it would bring a negative image to the city council if he were to run."
Calls to Mr. Barry's spokeswoman Raymone Baine for comment were not returned.
A Dupont Circle resident said this latest incident was unlikely to affect how she would vote.
"I want to find out more about who else is running, but [Mr. Barry] is a local hero, and how much damage can he do in that seat?" the Democratic resident said. "Besides, maybe if he is kept busy, he will stay off the crack cocaine."
Lawrence T. Guyot, ANC for 1B04 in Northwest and a longtime Barry supporter, said he is confident Mr. Barry will run for the at-large seat currently held by Democrat Phil Mendelson. Mr Guyot said he saw Mr. Barry as recently as Saturday giving a speech in a high school auditorium about how to run an effective campaign, and that Mr. Barry seemed ready to go.
"The room was packed with people and filled with electricity," Mr. Guyot said. "[Mr. Barry] said he was not going tell all his secrets because [Mr. Mendelson and other members of the council were in attendance], but he gave a great speech and was well received."
Mr. Barry has had a long career in politics in the District. He was first elected to the D.C. Council in the mid-1970s and became mayor in 1978. His scandal-plagued administration was marred by mismanagement so rampant that Congress set up a control board in 1995 to oversee the city's finances.
In August 1990, a federal jury convicted Mr. Barry of a single misdemeanor count of cocaine possession, acquitted him of another and deadlocked on 12 other counts, including three drug-related felonies.
Trial evidence included an FBI videotape that showed him smoking crack cocaine during a sting operation in January at the Vista Hotel downtown. Mr. Barry served six months in prison and eventually ran successfully for mayor again in 1994. He did not seek re-election in 1998.
Mrs. Ferrell said she believed Mr. Barry was the victim of a setup in his latest brush with the law.
"They set him up before, and I think they did it again," she said. "This man is good … and it has gotten to the point where concerned residents will have to come with him to follow him around and protect him from these sorts of things."
Jeffrey Henig, director of the George Washington University Center for Washington Area Studies, says this is likely to be a common theme among Barry supporters.
"There are a lot of people who will think that Barry was set up by a racially motivated prosecution," he said. "It is not a majority, but a substantial enough amount that identify him with his previous administration and the charges and the need for the Control Board. It is the story of the white power structure out to harass an advocate of the people."
Mr. Westbrook said he hoped Mr. Barry would see the wisdom of stepping aside.
"Bringing Marion Barry back would bring a negative image back to the city," he said. "He does not have the positive image that our current Mayor [Anthony A.] Williams has. D.C. has a positive image with Tony Williams all over the country, and especially in the Congress."
The Adams Morgan national party activist agreed.
"The idea that he would want to come back damages Democrats on all issues," he said. "This latest instance is just proof that he has no credibility … D.C. will become the laughingstock of the nation again if he gets back into office."


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