The Barry trial is finally over, and now the Washington area can be spared any more wallowing in the grime of Marion Barry's life. After the trial, the mayor asked Washington to push on, to heal. He asked anyone who is still harboring resentment toward him to "let go."

All right, Mr. Mayor, I'll let go. I'll forgive you. I'll forgive your hypocrisy and your lies. Your wife has apparently forgiven you, so why shouldn't I? But I'll tell you, Mr. Barry, you cannot be forgiven for the message you have sent to the children of the District of Columbia. You have told young, black children, by your words and your deeds, that it's okay to be unfaithful, it's okay to smoke crack as long as you don't get caught, it's okay to manufacture charges of racism and, finally, it's okay not to be responsible for your own actions.


As an African American I was outraged and disgusted by the outcome of the Marion Barry trial. Given the history of racial injustice in America, those of us who aspire to public office and positions of authority and leadership must be held accountable once elected or appointed to such positions. If we fail to set standards of conduct for our leaders that exceed those of white officials, we are simply playing into the hands of our oppressors. Compassion and forgiveness must be tempered with sound judgment and common sense.

The outcome of this trial sends the wrong message to our youth and to those who are the root cause of the drug problem -- the drug users. ROBERT JONES Suitland

William Raspberry's recent columns {Outlook, Aug. 12; op-ed, Aug. 13} have eloquently phrased the thoughts that have been running through my head, most significantly his call to Marion Barry to take responsibility for his own actions.

Marion Barry was indicted, tried and convicted on a charge of drug possession. This should stand on its own as a serious reason for Mr. Barry to fade out of D.C. politics. But other reasons could be added: charges of corruption in his administration, waste and fiscal mismanagement, deception.

What should have been a legal process has been turned into a racial indictment, and I find that bogus. Public officials have been pursued from time immemorial (Richard M. Nixon leaps to mind), and my hope is that justice was served.

So, too, with Mr. Barry. The jury made thoughtful findings, albeit not pleasing ones to everyone in the District. Now our city should get on with the business at hand: electing a person for the office of mayor, a person who has not been tainted with conviction of a crime, a person who has a vision for our city that does not revolve around his or her own ego-mending. I hope that Marion Barry will make his peace with his God and his family. But please, Mr. Barry, don't worry about me. I am voting for someone else this time.


One of the most unfortunate consequences of the Barry trial, it seems, is that many who reside outside the District now question the ability of Washington residents to govern ourselves. Statehood, those of us who live in the city are told, is now out of the question. Some even suggest that home rule should be reassessed. And it's not just ambitious politicians who raise these questions; many of my suburban friends and colleagues have echoed this sentiment.

I, too, am troubled by the fact that Marion Barry got off lightly in court. Of even greater concern is that he, with the enthusiastic support of some District residents, intends to run again for elected office. If nothing else, his disregard for the laws he was sworn to uphold should disqualify him (politically if not legally) from holding office again. But I am even more troubled by the view that District residents must pass a merit test to enjoy the rights of American citizenship.

If electing dishonest, demagogic, stubborn or embarrassing politicians disqualified citizens from the right to vote, then there would be a long list of disenfranchised cities and states. Have Maryland residents forgotten about Marvin Mandel and Spiro Agnew? What about the citizens of Chicago, Philadelphia and New York, who also have been known to elect politicians whose ethics were at best questionable? The point is that voters everywhere have elected leaders who have engaged in actions that are illegal, unethical, embarrassing or objectionable. But that risk is one that we accept in a democratic society. I hope that my fellow District residents do not now elect Mr. Barry to the D.C. Council. But if Washington voters choose to do so, that is our right.

Political realities being what they are, statehood may indeed have even less support in Congress than it did before. And Congress might feel inclined to interfere even more in District affairs. But the blame if that occurs should not be directed at District residents but at those who paternalistically and hypocritically set themselves up in judgment of our worthiness. No one else is expected to earn the inherent American rights of self-determination and representation. Nor should we be, regardless of what happens to Marion Barry. ROBERT DOHERTY Washington

William Raspberry and Dorothy Gilliam have interesting suggestions as to why the Barry trial ended in a hung jury. Mr. Raspberry thinks it was because the jury decided that it was "best for the city." Mrs. Gilliam thinks the jury couldn't agree to convict because Mr. Barry never committed the sin of sleeping with a white woman.

I assume the jury couldn't agree on a verdict because the evidence was not conclusive.

I believe deeply in our judicial system. I believe the 12 jurors in this case devoted themselves to the question of Barry's guilt or innocence pertaining to the offenses he was charged with. I do not believe that they were so arrogant as to presume to decide what was best for the city. Nor do I believe that they were so shallow as to think that his offenses involving cocaine were less important than the race of the women he consorted with.

Jurors debate guilt or innocence. It is the duty of the prosecution to establish guilt beyond reasonable doubt. It is the duty of the defense to prove that there remains reasonable doubt. It is the duty of the jurors to consider the evidence presented from both sides and to reach a decision of guilty or not guilty based on that evidence.

When a trial ends in a hung jury, it means that 12 of our fellow citizens could not reach a unanimous decision. That is what it means. Mr. Raspberry's suggestion is ridiculous. Mrs. Gilliam's suggestion is idiotic. Both are insults to our judicial system and to the jurors who served on this trial.


I am one of those Afro-Americans who are among the silent majority wishing to say thanks, William Raspberry, for making some sense out of the whole sorry Barry scenario -- trial, verdict and aftermath {"The Verdict for Barry and a Verdict for the City," Outlook, Aug. 12}.

Mr. Barry has been the victim of his own hubris. Were he not so arrogant and eager to find scapegoats, both he and his enablers would have recognized by now that the government "sting" was a blessing in disguise, for it did what neither he nor his concerned well-wishers could do -- block his path to self-destruction.

EILEEN C. BANKS Washington

In "The Consistent Marion Barry" {Metro, Aug. 13}, Dorothy Gilliam notes that for having unjustly spent time in jail during the civil rights struggle 30 years ago, Mr. Barry should not have to serve time now for what amounts to "human frailties." Overlooking Mrs. Gilliam's vision of divine symmetry and Mr. Barry's relatively minor conviction in court, perhaps Mrs. Gilliam should be more consistent herself and demand that other black men marking time in jail for possession of illegal drugs be released for what amount to "human frailties."

J. S. OPPENHEIM Silver Spring

African Americans have seen "blind" justice compromised, winked at or just simply ignored for generations. They have seen the "good ole boy" network prevail, from red-neck southern towns to the Ivy League halls of the White House. They have seen congressmen slapped on the wrist for activities that led to the censure and ouster of Adam Clayton Powell Jr.

I believe Marion Barry to be guilty on most if not all counts, and I daresay that I do not stand alone in the African-American community on this. However, had I been a juror in this case, the outcome would have been the same. I categorically would not have convicted him of any charge that would have sent him to prison -- until justice is truly colorblind and it makes no difference whether your address is in Chevy Chase or in Congress Heights. KIJANA O. MALIKE Washington

It's a sad commentary about Washington that on Friday, Aug. 10, Marion Barry was applauded, cheered, encouraged to seek reelection and otherwise treated like a hero after being convicted in U.S. District Court on one count of possession of cocaine, while elsewhere in the city, John Bonello was manhandled, pinned to the wall, arrested, handcuffed and otherwise treated like a common criminal -- for jaywalking {"A Misstep Into Trouble; Four Squad Cars Come for One Jaywalker," Metro, Aug. 11}.