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Former crack smoking D.C. Mayor, Marion Barry dies at the age of 78

November 23, 2014  |  Posted by: Giovanni DePhillips
Former crack smoking D.C. Mayor, Marion Barry dies at the age of 78 Image courtesy of wusa9.com

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Former controversial four term D.C. Mayor Marion Barry, who was arrested in 1990 after being caught on video surveillance smoking crack cocaine, died Sunday morning at the age of 78.

Barry’s family announced in a statement that he passed away shortly after midnight Sunday at the United Medical Center, just one day after being released from Howard University Hospital.

He had had been dealing with health issues, which include kidney problems stemming from diabetes and high blood pressure, in February 2009 he had undergone a kidney transplant.

Barry’s family requested that their privacy be respected, and further details regarding his death will be released in the coming days.

Barry was elected mayor in 1978,1982 and 1986, giving him the term “Mayor For Life.”

After being sworn in his first term Barry said, “I want to take the boards off of houses and put people in them,” he said shortly after being sworn in, in 1979. “I want to provide minimal care for all people, regardless of their financial situation. And I want to live out (Dr. Martin Luther) King’s legacy of peace, brotherhood and survival.”

However, he gained national fame for the wrong reasons. In 1990 when he was caught on  videotaped surveillance smoking crack in an FBI sting smoking crack in a downtown Washington hotel room with a female acquaintance.

He was convicted of a single count of drug possession however, jurors had deadlocked on most counts and he was sent to prison for six months.

However despite being caught smoking crack,  Barry’s political career didn’t end In 1992, he ran and won a city council seat representing the poorest of the city’s eight wards.

The victory helped launched a fourth successful bid as mayor in 1994.

“Marion Barry changed America with his unmitigated gall to stand up in the ashes of where he had fallen and come back to win,” poet Maya Angelou said in 1999.

As an aging politician, Barry was an elder statesman on the council, often garnering attention as he would ramble on about his terms as mayor.

Among the various legal issues aside from the drug charges, Barru had dealt with a tax case as well.

While fighting kidney disease in early 2009, prosecutors had been seeking to pull his probation in the tax case, saying he had not complied with his probation, which mandated him to file annual returns. He had been censured twice for ethical violations by the city council.

Voters maintained loyalty to Barry despite his brushes with the law and crack smoking scandals, especially in lower-income, primarily black sections of the city.

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