The death of Marion Barry sent D.C. officials scrambling Sunday to organize memorials to the District’s most famous politician.
D.C. flags were lowered to half-staff Sunday morning, and officials in Mayor Vincent C. Gray’s office said they were finalizing paperwork to request that American flags in the District also be lowered to half-staff.
In an afternoon interview, Gray pledged “public efforts to mark the life of this iconic figure.” He said that the city had made few arrangements for Barry’s death and that much would depend on Barry’s wishes as expressed through his family and friends.
“You probably would look at it and say, ‘You should [have made plans],’ but who in the hell wants to plan for that?” Gray said. “There’s nothing exciting about trying to accept the inevitability of what we know is inevitable.”
An administration official, speaking on the condition of anonymity because plans were not complete, said it seemed clear that a citywide memorial service would be held.
Gray said that because of the Thanksgiving holiday, it could be a week or more before such an event was held.
“It would not surprise me if it was the week after. That would make more sense to me,” he said. “We want everybody who wants to participate to have an opportunity be able to do that.”
People close to Barry were discussing the possibility of using Verizon Center for a memorial service. An official familiar with the planning said another possibility is the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, where the city had a public service for musician Chuck Brown in 2012.
Gray said he expected Barry’s body to lie in repose at the John A. Wilson Building on Pennsylvania Avenue NW. He predicted that “thousands” would visit.
Dates and times for any events were not immediately clear.