It now appears likely that a statue of former Washington, D.C. Mayor Marion Barry will be placed in front of the capital’s city hall. The DC Council Committee of the Whole recently voted- unanimously- to approve a measure advancing the possibility of adding a statue dedicated to the late mayor in front of its home. Due to a procedural glitch, the measure wasn’t officially passed at that time, but could well be at the next council session which could come as early as this week.
Artists at Weitzman Studios in Maryland have recently completed a full-body clay model of Barry smiling and waving, wearing a suit and snakeskin shoes. This model will be used to craft the eight-foot-tall statue honoring the disgraced, deceased former administrator.
“The statue is intended to celebrate the life, accomplishments and contributions of Marion Barry,” said D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson. The unveiling is tentatively set for March 6, which is Barry’s birthday, pending review and approval. Last year, a monument was also placed at Barry’s grave site at Congressional Cemetery.
All things considered, honoring The Less Than Honorable Marion Shepilov Barry in this way seems a surpassingly odd thing to do at this time, if not at any time. The former mayor was a notorious womanizer, who publicly acknowledged that he shamelessly flirted with other women in front of his wife. He went on the Sally Jessy Raphael TV show in 1991 to announce that he was addicted to women and sex. In 1990, former model (and former girlfriend) Hazel Diane “Rasheeda” Moore invited the lusty mayor to the Vista Hotel, where Barry was caught on an infamous FBI videotape smoking crack and asking for sex. Barry then uttered the brilliantly succinct, if ignoble, line: “Bitch set me up!”
Ms. Moore claimed she and Barry had used illicit drugs together on more than 100 occasions before the FBI sting at the hotel. But this is just the tip of the iceberg insofar as the erstwhile mayor’s despicable behavior goes. Barry, who was first elected mayor in 1978, has an almost unprecedented rap sheet to his discredit.
Barry, known as “Mayor for Life,” was re-elected in 1982, and, shortly thereafter, the city’s finances went to hell, the result of Barry dramatically increasing spending to create government jobs to deal with high unemployment rates. He was elected to a third term in 1986, and was accused in 1987 of presiding over a “corrupt and incompetent” government. On October 26th, 1990, he was sentenced to six months in prison and entered a seven-week drug and alcohol program.
He was succeeded as mayor in January of 1991 by Sharon Pratt Dixon, yet, incredibly, he ran for mayor two years later and won his fourth term, proving that Americans are incredibly forgiving…or stupid. He left office for the last time on January 2nd, 1999, saying, “I believe I’ve been a good mayor.” In 1995, during his last term, Congress stripped the mayor of much of his power and installed a financial control board, in an effort to save the city.
Barry repeatedly failed to file taxes, racked up $2,800 in unpaid tickets in just two years, and frequently slurred Asians and Polish people.
As if all of this weren’t enough, in 2002, Barry was busted for marijuana and cocaine possession. In 2005, he pled guilty to tax evasion spanning at least the five years after he left office. In 2006, he tested positive for cocaine. In 2009, he was arrested for stalking his ex-girlfriend. In 2013 he was accused of taking illegal gifts from city contractors. In 2011 he allegedly exposed himself to a woman in an airport bathroom and paid her $35,000 in settlement.
It's a good thing many Confederate statues are out of the way and several monuments to our Founders have been expunged, so we can get on with celebrating more honorable men, such as Mayor Barry!
Politics, they say, is downstream from culture. If so, statues of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Robert E. Lee, “Stonewall Jackson,” and Abraham Lincoln…will soon make way for the likes- and likenesses- of Anthony Weiner, Bill Clinton, Ted Kennedy, Gary Hart, and Charles Manson.