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Polish Group Demands Apology From Marion Barry For "Polack" Comment

"What the hell?" asks Polish-American leader. "He needs to apologize yet again." (Updated)

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The executive director of the Polish American Association blasted former Washington, D.C. Mayor Marion Barry for using the word "Polack" in the course of apologizing to an Asian-American group for derogatory remarks about Asian-owned buisness.

"It's not really cool. It's pretty nasty," said Gary Kenzer, who runs the Chicago-based Polish-American advocacy group, and described also the term as "inappropriate."

Polish-Americans prefer the noun "Pole."

"It's not very nice. It's just not nice," Kenzer continued. "What a loose cannon this guy is. Truly a loose cannon. What the hell?"

Barry, now a D.C. council member, referred to Poles as "Polacks" at a press conference today.

Barry at first denied that he had said "Polack," and then said that he had meant to say "Poles."

"There just isn't a good way to talk about this," Kenzer told BuzzFeed. "Like the jokes, they're just not funny. This is consistent with [Barry's] credibility. I don't know if you have access to this man but he needs to apologize yet again."

A member of Barry's staff didn't immediately return a request for comment.

"This is a very large group in the United States," said Kenzer. "Most people don't think about Poles being that big, but particularly here in Chicago there's almost a million Poles in the metropolitan area."

"This is unacceptable," he said.

Update: Barry's office issued a statement Friday morning addressing the comment: "I misspoke. I should have said, Polish."

Rosie Gray is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Washington, D.C. Gray reports on politics and foreign policy.

Contact Rosie Gray at

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