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Ward 8 Councilmember Marion Barry is having a hard time saying sorry. A statement from his office:

My earlier comments regarding the Asian American Business Community have been painted with a brush that was too narrow. They should be taken in the context of my long-standing history of good, positive relations with the Asian American Community in this town. I do not have, nor have I ever had a history of discrimination against anyone, including the Asian American Community.

People should remember that I created the first Office of Asian American Affairs in this City and continue to work very closely with the Asian Community in Chinatown, as well as the Asian Business Community in Ward 8. Many of the Asian American businesses that exist in Chinatown are there because of my strong support.

I am sorry that my choice of words in expressing my discontent with some of the Asian business owners in my Ward offended the Asian American Community and I am deeply apologetic for any harm that I have caused.

It is a fact, however, that there are a number of the Asian owned, neighborhood stores and carry-outs in Ward 8 that only sell highly caloric food and, that unlike some other Asian businessman in Ward 8, don’t reach-out to neighborhood groups, make financial contributions to the neighborhood or, help young people in the neighborhood improve their quality of life.

Ward 8 residents are spending their hard earned dollars in these stores because they are the only stores in the immediate neighborhoods; my constituents want respect, too.

It is to these less than stellar Asian American businessmen in Ward 8 that my remarks were directed, not the whole of Asian businessmen in Ward 8 or, the Asian American population.

Photo by Darrow Montgomery