D.C. Mayor Marion Barry's latest statements about his drug use at the Vista Hotel and his strategy for his coming trial touched off an angry response yesterday, with some saying they felt betrayed and others criticizing Barry for blaming his wrongdoing on others.

"It sounds ridiculous," said D.C. resident Jeff White, interviewed near the District Building. "How do you blame it on someone else for you smoking crack?"

"As far as I'm concerned, he's a disgrace to the District of Columbia," said Maria Hunt, a Shaw resident. "He's a disgrace to his own people, black people. It's as simple as that. If he did it {took drugs}, he's wrong."

Although a few residents and political activists defended Barry, many of those interviewed yesterday questioned the mayor's motives in acknowledging drug use practically on the eve of his trial, which starts Monday. Several said they were troubled by the mayor's display of confidence in asserting that a District jury would be unlikely to find him guilty, no matter what the federal prosecutors said.

D.C. Council Chairman David A. Clarke said Barry's comment about prospective jurors "insults the dignity, intelligence and responsibility of the citizens of this city . . . . "

"It is one thing to say 'I am innocent and I am confident that a jury of peers will acquit me,' " Clarke, a Democratic candidate for mayor, said in a written statement. "But it is an entirely different thing to say 'I broke the law, but the citizens of my city will ignore it.' "

In interviews with The Washington Post and radio station WHUR Tuesday, Barry publicly acknowledged for the first time using drugs at the Vista Hotel, but blamed the the FBI and federal prosecutors, asserting that authorities had tried to kill him by allowing him to ingest a potent dose of crack cocaine as part of a drug sting.

He expressed confidence that a jury would be unlikely to convict him: "I think the prosecutors know that in this town all it takes is one juror saying, 'I'm not gong to convict Marion Barry. I don't care what you say.' "

The mayor also assserted that the government had built a case around "something that, at worst, was harmful to me personally -- if I did that."

Lurma Rackley, Barry's press secretary, criticized aspects of The Post article yesterday, saying the newspaper failed to report the context of the mayor's comment about juries. Barry made the remark at the end of the interview, in response to a question about whether prosecutors could approach the mayor's defense team about a possible plea agreement.

"He was not coming from a cocky posture," Rackley said of the mayor's comment. "The way it was printed in the paper implied he had some sort of confidence.

"He was stating a fact, rather than a superhuman posture of confidence," she said. "He has said on numerous occasions that he's nervous and afraid" about the possible outcome of the trial.

Rackley also complained that Barry's acknowledgment about smoking crack cocaine at the Vista last January was "overblown" by The Post, which mentioned it in the headline across the top of the front page and in the first paragraph of the article.

"The news there was old," Rackley said. "It seemed overblown to put it at the top of the paper, over {Soviet President Mikhail} Gorbachev, like it was some revelation."

Barry's published comments that the government had gone overboard in trying to prosecute him for something that, at worst, was harmful to him personally, appeared to strike a raw nerve with many residents, particularly those on the front lines in the drug war.

Robert Moon, head of the Logan Circle Community Association, said the drug dealers on the streets of his neighborhood are there because of "demand, and people like Marion Barry create the demand . . . . The mayor is a consumer of drugs. Therefore he is one of the people causing our problem."

David Abramson, a one-time adviser to the mayor and now a media consultant to Clarke's campaign, said he once had "tremendous sympathy" for Barry, but that the mayor's most recent statement "totally changes the ballgame."

Abramson said he was particularly struck by what he characterized as Barry's comment that "Even if I'm guilty . . . I am not going to be found guilty."

A few who defended the mayor said his statement that federal authorities had tried to kill him was the rightful outrage of a victim of entrapment.

"Sure they tried to kill him," said Eddie Lee Key, an economist for the federal Bureau of Economic Analysis, noting that Barry was lured to the Vista by an ex-girlfriend, drank alcohol and then was allowed to ingest cocaine.

"He's a human being. We all make mistakes," Key said. "They tricked him . . . . I could have gotten tricked too if they called me over there with a fine lady . . . . Read the Bible. Samson was entrapped by a female."

Chuck Wade, another federal worker from Largo, said he believed Barry's comments were designed precisely to reach prospective jurors. "The prosecutors have said a lot of negative things, now the mayor is at bat," Wade said.

Others said they were outraged that Barry would try to shift blame to the government. "It was hilarious. I couldn't believe it," said Ronald Fairbanks, a law student.

Others questioned the mayor's motives in suddenly acknowledging drug use at the Vista, wondering if it was designed to gain a legal advantage.

"It struck me as something he should have done in the beginning," said Jim Williamson, a public relations representative. "It's comical."

Political adversaries weighed in with their analysis.

"Bravado," said D.C. Council member Charlene Drew Jarvis (D-Ward 4) of Barry's comments.

Council member John Ray (D-At Large) characterized Barry's statements as a mistake, possibly brought on by the pressure weighing on the mayor.

And Sharon Pratt Dixon, the first Democratic mayoral candidate to call for Barry's resignation, said she was "tired of talking about" him. "It's difficult in this environment to get the public to focus on the needs of the city," she said.

Adrian Cohen, a physician who specializes in drug and alcohol treatment, said Barry's comments appeared to be coming from "a substance abuser's approach." Barry's statement that he had hurt only himself, Cohen said, ignores the fact that "to some extent the city has been critically wounded by what he has done." Substance abusers, said Cohen, often deny that their actions harm others.

Nowhere was the debate more poignant than on a sidewalk across from Dunbar High School in Shaw.

"I wonder why they're doing this to the mayor," said Yazid Lewis, 16, a Dunbar sophomore. "They catch other people using drugs. They don't put all of them on trial . . . . What if the president was using drugs. You think they'd go after the president? No way."

But Jermaine Clark, also a sophomore, vehemently disagreed.

"Because he's the mayor, he's not supposed to use drugs. He's supposed to set an example," Clark said. "We look up to him. If little kids see him using drugs, they might use drugs. They might figure, if the mayor can do it, we can too."

Staff writers R.H. Melton and Steve Twomey contributed to this report.