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“I’m just listening,” she said quietly.
She was dressed in jeans, a thin sweater, t-shirt, and dark glasses. In her left hand, she held a drink from McDonald’s. In the other, she held a cellphone.
She had found the cameras and the reporters and the microphones in front of the Wilson Building, and felt she needed to take it all in. She stood off to the side, away from the lights, and watched the woman talking into all those microphones.
At a little past 11 p.m. yesterday night, Marion Barry‘s spokesperson Natalie Williams had assembled the media throng for a quickie press conference to address allegations concerning the councilmember giving lucrative contract work to ex-girlfriend Donna Watts-Brighthaupt.The payments amounted to at least $20,000.
Williams began the presser with an attack on Watts-Brighthaupt. Reading from a typed script, she declared emphatically that the Barry Ex is “unstable” and had sought professional help at one point. This had nothing to do with the circumstances that led to the press conference—-Barry’s arrest for allegedly stalking Watts-Brighthaupt this past weekend. If she was so unstable, weren’t these reasons enough not to hire her for those contract jobs?
Still, Williams kept on her talking point, repeating that word “unstable.”
A few feet away, the girl stood still, trying to contain her anger and disappointment. She is 16. She mumbled that she is Watts-Brighthaupt’s daughter.
“I’m trying to figure out why she’s so unstable,” she said of her mother, “when she’s sending me off to college next year.”
She said she’s not surprised by Barry’s wave of personal attacks against her mother. She explained: “He’s Marion Barry.”
There used to be a time not too long ago when Barry meant something important to her family. Although her mom broke things off with the councilmember shortly before his kidney-transplant surgery, she cared for him around-the-clock during his recuperation. “We cooked for him during his recovery,” the daughter said. “Cooking and making sure he was comfortable. He had a team of people looking [after] him. Mom was part of the team.”
After the press conference ended, she waited for her mom to pick her up. She said that she’ll be graduating from high school in a year, that she hoped to attend Hampton University (where Effi Barry once taught). She said she wanted to major in political science.
Photo by Darrow Montgomery