The dark green wooden tables that come out every year were out again this year, and Mercedes Walker, 6, walked a visitor past their displays of food and drink on the way to see the sign.

It's at Hill's Market in the 1600 block of Gales Place NE, where Mercedes lives and where the block party was. The sign used to say, "The Lord had helped him," which Mercedes took to mean Mayor Barry.

Someone had changed the sign, and Mercedes couldn't quite make out the words. It read: "Honk Your Horn for Victory! Barry, Keep your Nose Clean!" You could tell it was hard for her to understand, but Mercedes nodded as if she understood.

On her block, about a dozen older children gathered to discuss Barry and the trial. Uniformly, they backed their mayor. Some remembered his visit last year to the Gibbs Elementary School; others knew he was responsible for some of the programs at the Rosedale Recreation Center, just across 18th Street. They knew he had done something wrong, but with the same conviction, they knew he was not alone.

"A lot of people that was in the trial lied, and I think they should put them in jail," said Letia Butler, 11. "Now let's say Mr. President was using drugs. Mr. President wouldn't like it for them to show his tape."

"That," said her friend, Aisha Hendrick, 12, "is invading privacy."

On it went. They felt sorry for Barry's wife, Effi, and son, Christopher. They found things unfair but agreed with Aisha, who said the government "did have to serve justice, to let people know the mayor shouldn't do drugs."

Listen to Letia, who watched the news at 6 p.m. or, if she missed it, at 11. "I would tell him to run again. Let him do what he wants to do. If he dies" overdosing on drugs, "he dies." And later: "I think the whole thing was Rasheeda Moore's fault, and plus he probably didn't want to do that stuff."

And now to Yolanda Coles, 11: "I still think he should be mayor. They should have never set him up . . . . Some of them people, I think, were paid to go up there and say they did drugs with the mayor. They said they did drugs with the mayor 100 times, and I think he would have been in the hospital if he had done drugs 100 times."

A day of random interviews with youngsters on the city's streets yesterday -- the day after the verdict in Mayor Marion Barry's trial -- suggested a change in attitude from a few months ago on the subject of the mayor. One day after his arrest at the Vista Hotel in January, young people said in interviews that they were disappointed in him, even angry.

Across the city, in front of Seaton Elementary School on Rhode Island Avenue and 10th Street NW, a group of girls was practicing double-dutch moves. The teacher, Montez Delaney, reminded them that Barry once had appeared in a picture with the team.

There was something unfair about the trial, the children said. Too many people admitted giving drugs to Barry, but what happened to them? And then there was Barry's family, Christopher, in particular, and what happens to them?

"Did the girl get locked up, the one who sold him the drugs?" asked Olufunke Akinmboni, 11. "They should lock her up."

"If it was somebody else, I don't think they would have gone to this extent," said Nia Nicholas, 13. "We have politicians, lawyers, teachers doing drugs, and you don't see them on TV."

It was Ronke Akinmboni, 10, who said everyone had forgotten about Christopher Barry: "Everybody probably didn't know that was his son, and then they showed him on TV, and now everybody is going to be able to pick on him because of Mayor Barry. I think he might move to another neighborhood or some other state where they don't know him."

On the front stoop of a house at Princeton Street and Georgia Avenue NW, four youngsters who had been checking out passing cars clearly hadn't sorted out the verdict, to the extent they had thought about it at all. They were pro-mayor and anti-mayor. They were pro-government, then anti-government. This was confusing stuff.

Yes, they agreed, he should have gone to jail. After all, Rayful Edmond III had gone to jail. "He did something wrong," said Daniel McRae, 12, referring to Barry. "He committed a crime." Ronald Pannell, 12, added, "They caught him in the act."

But wait: That Vista taping was rotten, they said, setting him up like that. "Making him look bad," added Demitrius Pannell, 10. Should the mayor run for election again? Yes. Were they disappointed in him? Daniel McRae was: "After telling so many youngsters not to use drugs, he was using drugs." Staff writer Steve Twomey contributed to this report.