Former D.C. mayor Marion Barry alleged yesterday that U.S. Park Police "planted" drugs in his car during a 2002 incident that prompted him to drop plans to run that year for the D.C. Council.
Barry, who is now contemplating a run for the Ward 8 council seat, reopened a controversy dating to March 2002, when Park Police said they found a trace of marijuana and $5 worth of crack cocaine in his Jaguar. They said Barry was in the car, which was parked at Buzzard Point in Southwest Washington.
Although no charges were filed, Barry scrapped plans to run that year for an at-large seat. Yesterday, when Barry called in to Kojo Nnamdi's weekly political show on WAMU-FM to talk about his future, he faced questions about the episode.
"The last time you decided to run for office, the embarrassing Buzzard Point incident occurred," Nnamdi said to Barry. "That led to a major setback in your personal life, and you said then that you were not running to essentially put your personal life back in order. What assurances can you offer voters that your life is back in order?"
"First of all, Kojo, I did not say that," Barry said.
In 2002, Barry told reporters that he was stepping aside to do what was best for his family and the city. Yesterday, he publicly lashed out at the Park Police's conduct.
"The Park Service planted whatever they planted in my car," Barry continued on the radio program. "They were out in the District, never patrolled in the District before, but that is in the past."
The interview came as Barry fueled more talk about a prospective challenge to council member Sandy Allen (D). He said he plans to announce a decision June 12.
Park Police dismissed Barry's contentions yesterday.
"The only thing that we have to say is that we stand behind our officers," said Lt. Michael Downs. "Twenty-two percent of the District is our primary jurisdiction, and in other parts of the District, we patrol concurrently with" the D.C. police.
Downs said officers were simply doing their jobs and had every right to be in that section of Southwest because "we have two marinas in that area."
In the wake of the Buzzard Point incident, the former four-term mayor said he was drug- and alcohol-free. Barry was convicted of misdemeanor cocaine possession after being arrested in 1990 in a downtown hotel. The 2002 incident fueled speculation among many of his friends and advisers that he had slipped back into using drugs and alcohol.
In his call to Nnamdi and political analyst Jonetta Rose Barras on the "D.C. Politics Hour," Barry, 68, criticized the way Ward 8 has been run. Other callers expressed concern and outrage that Barry plans to stage another political comeback.
Reached later, Barry said: "I have no comment on anything. My only concern is for the people of Ward 8. This is a one-day story."