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Dem. do Dumbest Things
By Bill Crawford
St. Martin's PressCopyright © 2011 Bill Crawford
All rights reserved.
THE DEMOCRATSMarion Barry
DUMBEST QUOTES“Outside of the killing, we have one of
the lowest crime rates in the country.”
FACTS OF LIFE
ORIGIN: Born Marion S. Barry Jr., March 6, 1936, Itta Bena, Mississippi.
FORMATIVE YEARS: LeMoyne College, B.S., 1958; Fisk University, M.A., 1960.
FAMILY PLANNING: Married Blantie C. Evans (student), 1962; divorced, 1969; married Mary Treadwell (phone company manager), 1973; divorced, 1976; married Effi Slaughter Cowell (teacher), 1977; divorced; married Cora Masters (Washington, D.C., employee), 1993.
SELECTED ELECTION SCORECARD: 1978–86: won, mayor, Washington, D.C. 1994: won, mayor, Washington, D.C.QUICKIE BIODescribed by his third wife as a naive “street dude,” Marion Barry was born to a sharecropper family in Mississippi, earned a doctorate in chemistry, and taught at the University of Tennessee before he made the bad mistake of getting into politics. Young Professor Barry worked with Martin Luther King Jr., and moved to Washington, D.C., in 1965, where he was dubbed by the press a “dashiki-clad militant.” Marion helped launch the “Free D.C.” movement, which demanded that the black-majority district be given home rule. Barry got what he wanted and was elected mayor of a “free” D.C. in 1978. Unfortunately, Barry the chemist strongly believed in better living through chemistry, especially the illegal kind. He was busted for drugs in 1990 and served six months in prison. Miraculously he was reelected to the mayor’s job, but wound up in rehab in 1996. In that same year, a Washington, D.C., official commented that Marion Barry was “a lot like nuclear power. On a good day, he can light the city. On a bad day, he can blow it up.”“B***h set me up!” Marion Barry exclaimed on videotape after he was caught smoking crack cocaine in an FBI sting.(Courtesy of AP/World Wide Photos)MARION BARRY DOES THE DUMBEST THINGSBarry’s middle initial S originally didn’t stand for anything. In 1957, Marion took the middle name Shepilov in honor of a leader of the Soviet Communist Party.Barry was busted for allegedly writing bad checks in 1962.Police officers stopped Barry for jaywalking in 1967 and asked to see his ID. Marion shouted, “I ain’t showing a white motherf***er a goddamn thing … . My name is nobody.” When they tried to get Barry into the police wagon, Barry reportedly punched one of the cops in the face. When he was inside the wagon, he kicked the vehicle’s door so hard it buckled. Barry was arrested for jaywalking, disorderly conduct, and destroying government property. He claimed it was all the fault of the police. Marion went to trial and was acquitted.Two years later, Barry confronted two police officers standing next to a vehicle that was parked illegally. “If you write a ticket on that car, I will kill you,” Marion reportedly threatened. The law enforcer wrote the ticket, Barry ripped it up, and a fight ensued.Barry was arrested, and was released on bail. He arrived at the District Building, blamed the police for the incident, and announced, “We have declared war on the police department and this city. The police are like mad dogs.” As Marion’s supporters left the building, they broke glass bottles, tried to set the American flag on fire, shouted obscenities, punched a news vendor in the face, took flowers, and removed beer from a parked car.During Barry’s term as mayor of the nation’s capital, newspapers claimed that planes flew drugs from the Virgin Islands into D.C. and that some D.C. employees snorted cocaine at their office desks.In 1989, Marion made several visits to the Ramada Inn Central in Washington to the suite of Charles Lewis, a district employee and a native of the Virgin Islands. Traces of cocaine were later found in the room. At the Ramada, a man claimed that he came to talk with Barry about a job. Marion sat on the commode while the man spoke. Finally, the politician looked up and said, “You know, you look a lot like Santa Claus.”During his third term as mayor, Barry remarked that the poor of D.C. were using the free ambulance system too often.After a welfare mother complained to Barry about the lack of housing for herself and her fourteen children, Marion advised her to “stop having all those babies.”When hecklers booed Barry at a September 1989 neighborhood festival in Washington, he grinned and gave them the finger.In January 1987, a blizzard hit Washington, D.C. At the time, Marion Barry was in California watching the Washington Redskins play in the Super Bowl. When his city was unable to clear its streets of snow, Barry said that residents were exaggerating the situation, and delayed his return. He claimed that he had a hernia; others insisted that he had suffered a near fatal cocaine overdose.When Marion saw the cover of Essence magazine in 1977, he went gaga. He contacted the cover girl, Hazel Diane Rasheeda Moore and sought to persuade her to fly to D.C. She said no, and instead flew to London to visit her boyfriend. Oops! The day her plane landed in London, her beau was arrested for allegedly smuggling $18 million worth of heroin.Barry eventually got together with Rasheeda. Rasheeda claimed later that she had had sexual relations with Barry over one hundred times over three years at twenty-two different places, and had used marijuana, cocaine, crack, and opium with the mayor. She alleged that the mayor became paranoid when high. At one point, after smoking crack, he supposedly believed that the police were closing in on him, so he hid his crack-crystal drugs in a vacuum cleaner bag. When his paranoia subsided, Marion took the crystals from the bag, dusted them off, and smoked them.At one point, Ms. Moore claimed, Barry took a massive hit of crack. When he exhaled his body started shaking and he almost collapsed. She grabbed the mayor and told him to stay focused. After regaining his composure, he looked at Moore and said, “That was a really good hit.”When Rasheeda tried to break up with Barry, he told her “Divine Providence” was behind their romance. He arranged for her to work on a summer youth program that received $180,000 worth of district funding. The name of the program? Project Me.Allegedly, Barry threatened to cut off funding for Project Me after Rasheeda refused to have oral sex with him.Rasheeda agreed to cooperate with the FBI on a sting operation. In January 1990, she invited the mayor to her room at Washington’s Vista International Hotel. The videotape of the encounter revealed that Barry was more interested in sexual relations than drugs. He kept grabbing Rasheeda’s breasts, and expressed his interest in having sex with multiple partners, “twos and threes if I can.”Eventually Barry smoked crack on camera, and was arrested immediately by the FBI. As they read him his rights, the mayor observed, repeatedly, on tape, “B***h set me up.”During Marion’s trial, one witness stated that Barry liked to smoke cocaine-laced cigarettes that he called “M.B. specials.” Barry was convicted on one count of drug possession.After serving time, Marion was reelected mayor of Washington, D.C. However, the district was in such terrible shape that Congress stripped Mayor Barry of his power and the federal government once again took over control of D.C. Mayor Barry was left to supervise only a few agencies, including the Office of Cable TV and the Department of Recreation.Copyright © 2000 by Bill Crawford
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