(WASHINGTON) — Former Washington, D.C. Mayor Marion Barry apologized Thursday evening for comments he made earlier this week regarding Asian business owners, saying in a statement that he was “deeply apologetic for any harm I have caused.”
“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,” he said, emphasizing the word “some” in his statement.
Tuesday night, after winning the Democratic primary election for the District of Colombia city council, on which he has served for the past seven years, Barry seemed to berate the Asian-American business community in his Southeast D.C. district.
“We got to do something about these Asians coming in and opening up businesses and dirty shops,” he said after winning the Democratic Primary for his Ward 8 City Council seat, according to a video posted by NBC 4 in Washington. “They ought to go. I’m going to say that right now. But we need African-American business people to be able to take their places, too.”
The comment evoked a response from current D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray on Thursday, who said he was “deeply disappointed” by Barry’s remarks.
“There is no room in this wonderfully diverse city for comments that disparage anyone on the basis of race, ethnicity, gender, religion, disability or sexual orientation,” Gray said in a statement. “Our energies are better spent focused on building everyone up rather than tearing anyone down. That is how we achieve the vision of One City.”
Barry intially took to Twitter on Thursday to clarify his remarks.
“My comments were taken out of context & construed as disparaging 2 entire Asian biz community. We DO deserve our bizs t/b nice places in W8!” read a tweet from his @marionbarryjr Twitter account Thursday afternoon.
The city councilman then tweeted photos of three businesses, two of which seemed to be run by Asians, saying “WE can do a better job.”
“I do NOT disparage the Asian community, but the fact is there r some bizs that can do better!” Barry wrote.
In his statement Thursday evening, Barry continued his scorn of the Asian-owned businesses in Ward 8 that, he said, “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.”
“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,” Barry said in the statement.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio