There are those who are inclined to see the outcome of the Barry trial as evidence that the nation's capital is the new Sodom and Gomorrah, a wicked place ruled by people who want to maintain ''black power'' at whatever cost of crime and corruption.
They should not leap to such simplistic judgments about a jury performance that is in some ways tragic but is also nothing more than a reflection of the racial polarization between whites and blacks and, more dismaying, the deep divisions within black America on issues of law and order.
That jury that for the most part let Barry ''beat the rap'' was a manifestation of the extent to which real racism, paranoia about perceived racism and blatant demagoguery by Barry and his supporters dragged some black jurors into a posture for which this city will suffer for years. The federal contribution to support of this city, the chances of greater home rule or statehood, the hopes for vastly increased tourism to Washington and any hopes for respect for Washington anywhere -- including in the drug-besieged cities of Colombia, Mexico and elsewhere -- all went down the drain in that jury verdict.
I was not shocked by what the jury did. In fact, I was surprised that these 12 people agreed that Barry was guilty of even one cocaine-possession crime. But despite the televised show of ''victory'' put on Saturday by Barry and people who are mostly on his payroll, the mayor of this nation's capital still has to be sentenced by a judge who could give him up to a year in prison and a $100,000 fine. Some ''victory''!
Whether Barry does time in prison or merely gets a thousand hours or so of mopping floors in some drug rehabilitation center, he will never again be the king of Washington as he has been for years.
This is a certainty, even though the jury sent a signal that half the black residents of this community put ''racial solidarity'' ahead of all concerns about corruption, crime, drug deaths and other costs. What has not been publicized across America is that the other half of black Washingtonians wanted Barry convicted and now want him out of their lives.
Whites and blacks across America must realize that thousands of us black people here know that, as the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies has reported, ''Public health systems are being overwhelmed by the cost of treating emergency room patients, overdoses, drug-exposed and abandoned boarder babies, and addicts seeking detoxification. Last year, hospitals in Washington, D.C., spent $176 million on nonreimbursed indigent health care, much of it drug-related. Caring for each drug-exposed baby generally costs $20,000 to $30,000 for the first six weeks; a boarder baby can cost $100,000 year to support.''
We black people know the cost of the drug scourge!
People in Chicago and Chattanooga, Detroit and Dallas must understand that millions of black people were dismayed that a few jurors dismissed photographs of Barry smoking crack and the admission by defense attorney Kenneth Mundy that the mayor was an occasional user of cocaine. These jurors were saying: The mayor may be a cocaine junkie, a crack addict, a sexual scoundrel, but he is our junkie, our addict, our scoundrel, and we aren't going to let you white folk put him in jail.
Is this, and the Barry ''victory'' extravaganza, enough to intimidate Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson into giving him a light sentence? Will this induce the prosecutors to say, ''We give up. We'll never find a jury in this predominantly black city that will convict Barry?''
One thing I know: our nation's capital is a wounded, emotionally sick city. ''Healing'' is the cliche' both of people who truly care about this beautiful place and of demagogues who see ''healing'' as absolution for their grotesquely criminal behavior. There can be no healing in my beloved city until its obscene, demagogic, drug violator -- Marion Barry -- is out of city hall, out of the District's politics and, one hopes, out of the nation's capital.
This arrogant user and purveyor of drugs -- Barry -- this betrayer of this city's children -- Barry -- is not going to fade away. He seems bent on punishing people, black and white, who once gave him a great mandate. He is saying that he was right in telling an interviewer that he is ''invincible.''
But people outside this city should be aware that the ultimate jury verdict isn't in. Time will yet show that this is a city that disavows crooks and deserves the respect of ghetto children here and caring people across the land.