In what was a publized meeting on D.C. Councilman Marion Barry's apology tour to the Asian community for his controversial remarks, Barry's first order of business was to kick out the reporters hoping to document it. In fact, aides were so intent on privacy that the windows to the meeting room were covered up after reporters lingered just outside, trying to peer in.
So what exactly did Barry say to representatives of the Asian community on Thursday? And how did they respond? We'll probably never really know.
The group of about 25 people met with Barry for nearly an hour in Southeast Washington at the Matthews Memorial Baptist Church in what looked to be an informal setting with Barry sitting at the head of chairs arranged in a circle. Attendees described the meeting as productive.
But when asked about what mistakes he'd made in his remarks last month toward "dirty" Asian-owned grocery stores and Filipino nurses, Barry only said, "That's been put behind us."
Well, sort of. It was clear from the raised voices occasionally heard outside the meeting room that not all was sunshine and roses inside. At one point, a D.C. resident who identified herself as Geraldine Hall, left the room and defended Barry's earlier controversial comments.
"This city needs to be cleaned up," said Hall, who is black. “Those dirty stores, inside and out, are filthy."
Floyd Mori, executive director of the Japanese American Citizens League, said after the meeting he thought the media should have stayed.
"I wasn't comfortable with a closed-door situation," he said. "I thought it should have been open."
Asked about the meeting, Mayor Vincent Gray said he was glad Barry was holding the meetings.
"We are an increasingly diverse city, and we want to make sure everybody feels comfortable here," he said. "Having a councilmember reach out in the wake of the comments that have been made, I think, is very important in furthering that goal."