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Marion Barry: ‘Dirty [Asian] Shops’ Comment Was ‘Not Racial’

Bill Clark/Roll Call/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Former Washington, D.C. Mayor Marion Barry doubled down on comments he made earlier this month that the “dirty shops” owned by Asians in his Southeast city council district “ought to go.”

“That’s not racial,” Barry, now a city councilman representing the majority-African-American Ward 8, told Reason TV.  “The fact is that 95 percent of the carry-outs in Ward 8 are owned or managed by Asians.  So I’m finished with that.”

After winning the Democratic primary in his re-election bid for city council, Barry, 76, said in an April 3 speech that Asians’ shops “ought to go” so that African-American businesspeople will “be able to take their places.”

“We got to do something about these Asians coming in and opening up businesses and dirty shops,” Barry said in his election-night speech.  “They ought to go.  I’m going to say that right now.”

He sought to explain his criticism in the Reason TV interview, which was posted online Sunday, by citing the “cultural differences” that are present in Ward 8, one of D.C.’s poorest areas with the highest unemployment rate in the nation’s capital city.

“There’s a cultural difference between a number of ethnic groups whether it’s Hispanics or whether it’s Asian or white people,” Barry said.  “There is a cultural difference because of our socialization, because of our segregation, discrimination.  All of this adds to it and affects every aspect of our life.”

Barry’s original comments sparked immediate outrage from D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray, who said he was “deeply disappointed” by Barry’s remarks.

Barry, who served as mayor for sixteen years, apologized for his “choice of words” earlier this month, emphasizing that his comments were only directed to the “less-than-stellar Asian American businessmen” in his ward, not an entire ethnic group.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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