By Yolanda Woodlee
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
D.C. Council member Marion Barry said yesterday he was detained for nearly three hours Saturday by the U.S. Park Police after he was pulled over for driving too slowly.
It marked the third time in a little more than seven months that Barry was stopped and cited in connection with an alleged traffic infraction.
In the Saturday incident, Barry (D-Ward 8) said that after he gave the police officer his driver's license, the officer said that the license was suspended.
"I said, 'That's not true,' " Barry said. "I have not got a letter saying my license is suspended. I was shocked."
The D.C. Department of Motor Vehicles confirmed to Barry yesterday that his license is in good standing and attributed the error to a computer glitch.
"My license has never been suspended as far as I know," Barry said. "D.C. government made this gross error."
Park Police spokesman Lt. Scott Fear said Barry was cited for operating a vehicle on a suspended license.
"He received a citation and was given a court date in February," Fear said.
Barry, 70, said he said he believes that federal law enforcement officers are harassing him.
Barry was ticketed in September by members of the uniformed division of the Secret Service who stopped him near the White House, saying he ran a red light. The police said they smelled alcohol and detained Barry, who said he has a report that says he passed a breath test. He has a court date on that citation in March.
In May, D.C. police cited Barry for a traffic violation after a minor accident in Southeast Washington, police said.
"I think I'm targeted," Barry said yesterday. "In all my driving, I've not seen another green Camaro," the vehicle he was driving Saturday and when he was arrested in September.
Barry is on three years' probation stemming from a tax-related conviction in March. He tested positive for marijuana and cocaine use in a court-required screening last year and underwent drug treatment and counseling.
Barry said he was on his way to Stanton Elementary School for a party for a nonprofit foundation Saturday when the police pulled him over near 25th Street and Alabama Avenue SE. Barry said he was driving slowly because he was unsure of where to turn to get to the school's parking lot.
Barry said he thinks officers are targeting black people for minor traffic offenses. He said the officer who pulled him over is black. "I'm outraged," he said. "I couldn't drive all weekend."
Yesterday, he was riding in a cab.