Online Petition Demands TMZ Change Marion Barry “Crack Mayor” Headline

November 24, 2014  |  

An online petition on has been launched against TMZ, asking the site to change a headline announcing the death of former Washington DC Mayor Marion Barry by calling him “crack mayor.”

So far, the petition has collected more than 16,000 names with the goal of collecting nearly 9,000 more. The petition calls the headline “distasteful.”

The TMZ story digs into the archive to pull the 1990 clip of Barry lighting a crack pipe. He went to jail for six months as a result.

The Grio goes a step further, calling the headline biased when compared with the one published to announce the death of actor Heath Ledger.

“Barry, unlike Ledger, did not die from an overdose but instead was plagued by prostate cancer and diabetes in his late age,” the site says. “The 78-year-old four-term mayor and three-term councilman also received a liver transplant in 2009, which may have been a factor in his death. While Barry, nicknamed ‘Mayor For Life,’ did have a well publicized battle with substance abuse, that represented just one element of his legacy.”

The New York Times has an obituary that certainly doesn’t omit his issues with substance abuse, womanizing and the law (along with some “hypocritical” actions as mayor), but also goes into great detail about his humble upbringing and the efforts that put him in the seat of government. He was mayor in 1978, 1982, 1986, and 1994. By 1995, he had been stripped of much of his power by the federal government and he decided not to run for another term. In 2004, he won a seat on the City Council, but faced misdemeanor charges the following year for not filing income taxes in 2004. He faced other legal issues in his later years as well.

As of now, TMZ’s article remains on the site. As of yesterday afternoon, there had been no details released about a public memorial service for Barry.

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