Why is the mayor so abusive and disrespectful against an Ethiopian man?


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41 Responses

  1. hermi says:

    Nothing new when it comes how our African American brothers treat black Africans. The mayor’s condescending and arrogant attitude was a reflection of his personality. How ones knowledge of marijuana is a measure of ones ability to sell a merchandise is beyond me. This is an abuse of power! The young man deserves an apology.

  2. Ermi says:

    The shop keeper seems smarter than the mayor even though he was brought up with a different language. But the mayor is ignorant and stupid for sure. He lacks basic communication skill and knowledge of his surrounding.

    Ethiopians should vote him out of office at the next election. They have the number, they just have to go out and vote.

    Peace and love to all!


  3. Qebenna says:

    The shop keeper was intimidated by the crowd, that is all. He was so anxious he couldn’t think straight. He’s got to be a new comer to the country. The mayor is not at fault at all and please let us not make a big deal about it.

    • Bex says:


      You know why it is a big deal? Because NBC mentioned the nationality of the shop keeper. I don’t even know why they needed to do that but our community got pulled into this. If you don’t stand up and straighten things out early on, your community won’t get the deserved respect. We want politicians to think twice when they deal with us. If politicians in DC disrespect our community, they should know that there are consequences.

  4. teshome says:

    Leaving aside the mayor arrogance and showing a disrespectful behavior , I can’t take the embarrassment for the Ethiopian shopkeeper for not understanding all what the mayor said. The mayor was right, how dare a person living in American doesn’t know Marijuana?
    The shopkeeper was not asked, whether he saw Marijuana or ever smoke Marijuana….
    I don’t know what to say for such creatures, remember when people like this guy is going back home, he is the one boasting in the streets and bars of Addis Ababa claiming to forget Amharic language and speak English.
    Please don’t turn and twist this circumstance to any unintended situation, the mayor was simply angry because the Ethiopian shopkeeper was answering no, and no to all the questions. If I were in the mayor shoe, I would have reacted like wise. This is simply human nature.
    But the reaction of the mayor was wrong or right is a different question. The answer is simple he was wrong.
    One thing I would like to say, this issue has nothing to do being an Ethiopia immigrant or not. Rather speaks the volume of communication barriers of immigrant Ethiopians including me, and we need to work to improve our communication skills.
    Please let’s not cover up our problem

    • gedle says:

      With all due respect to your opinion, I would like to bring to your attention that the wrapping paper that the mayor is talking about is being sold in stores all over the city if you are not aware of it.actually you can find also find it in larger stores like safeway. In general, many store keepers in DC and the areas around it do speak little english and particularl etnic stores have many non english speaking store keepers. But we seem to have missed the essence of the issue. Why is Mayor Grey interested in an Ethiopian store’s paper wrapping stocks? Why is even this story making it on papers? Why would the news mention “Ethiopian” ?
      When ever a crime is committed, names of the criminal is mention but it is seldom the criminal’s ethnic is mentioned but this wasn’t even a crime. In a city where marijuana is being sold openly, the mayor got better things to do than harrasing an Ethiopian who speaks little english. Please do not generalize, you do not know the person who has tested the arrogancy of this frustrated mayor who seems to have his work cut out for him. I feel like you are not from DC and you may not be aware of the politics. By the way Amharic is one of the working lanvuages of the city. Where ever there is a need, the city government is supposed to provide it. The mayor, if he was a sincere man, he shouldn’t have mocked the poor guy, should rather provide the shopkeeper with a translator, if if wanted to micromanage the city stores inspection. Again, do not be embarassed of Ethiopian brothers and sisters who speak little or no english. They may speak little or no english for a while but they strive to support family and in the mean time struggle to improve their lives. They are good hard working people who learn things fast and move onto a better life. Those types of jobs are done by new comer Ethiopians and many store owners hire this types of people for cheap labor. This practiced by Ethiopians and others. This mayor has proven time and again that he is the typical shroud and arogant politician. Personally, I enjoy incidents of this type. They will galvanize us, organize us into realizing our potential and take us out of comfort zone to alleviate us into a political force. In this great United States, only a community that puts aside it’s differences and organizes can reach the pinnacle of political influence and Mayor Grey is a blessing in disguise. He is telling that we need to be stronger influence and not a dispersed and disintegrated community that is easily tramped upon. It is my wish that you would look at this issue from political perspective. Hispanic, Chinese, koreans etc… are involved in many types of businesses. Sometime ago my car was damaged in a car wash and when I tried to communicate with the owner, he barely spoke
      English. I called the cops and the issue was resolved after a translator was called. Chinese community is one of the strongesst and they are well respected by the mayor. They have contributed to the mayoral election and Mayor Grey appreciated them with the city administrator position to one of their own Mr. Lew. This Mayor has been in political hot waters as a result of compaign finance corruption allegations; therefore, he is looking for areas that could make him look good. That is his reason for his actions against taxi drivers, food trucks, stores etc…

      • teshome says:

        I am not saying you are lying, but it is really difficult to take at face value all what you said.
        As you rightly said it, I am not aware of Ethiopians life in DC. But I can feel what it looks like.
        No doubt the mayor mistreated the innocent Ethiopian guy. No question about it. But the Ethiopian guy made himself vulnerable for all sorts of abuse because of his poor communication skills. The Ethiopian guy doesn’t need the help of anybody, He could have defended himself at spot for being mistreated.
        What does it take to learn basic English for an individual living in US..
        Man, because there are many Chinese Spanish people who don’t speak English, shouldn’t all be a reason to justify for Ethiopians not to speak English being in US for years and years.
        What an embarrassing thing you would have brought for an Ethiopia who was thought in English in high school, now living in USA doesn’t speak a little English. Mind you I didn’t say English but speak little English.

        ..The DC politics you are talking about, honestly I am not familiar. I would prefer other would comment about it.
        But one thing I sure the circumstance we witnessed on the video is not all orchestrated to attack the Ethiopian community as you tried to explained.
        Any wild human imagination wouldn’t even entertain your hypothesis, this is simply a paranoia Ethiopian communities should say no and no no.
        Man you are over looking a Non visible conspiracy.

        • gedle says:

          Dear Teshome:
          The issue here is that you are trying to imagine living in DC and ii am living in DC. There is a big difference. Please read Zengu Fereja’s comment at the bottom. Instead of summarizing your analysis by watching a 1 minute video and arguing with a DC resident, open yourself to do some research. Provided, every Ethiopian, for thag matter every human being is intelligent. You have even tried to go back into the kid’s highschool stuff. That by
          It self is another topic. Your conditions and the kid’s conditions could be totally different. Don’t jump into conclusion with out knowing if the jid has finished highschool, if he was provided necessities while in school etc…simply the focus is about the mayor acting like a gangster. The Ethiopian brought on himself because he is stupid doesn’t hold water. Again read other comments because it may increase your awareness.

    • dan says:

      first time ever, i agree with u TESHOME( aka sebhat nega). i can’t agree more with this issue. well said

    • yidu says:

      You said “If I were in the mayor shoe, I would have reacted like wise. This is simply human nature.
      But the reaction of the mayor was wrong or right is a different question. The answer is simple he was wrong.”

      What does it sound if you substitute “the mayor” with “teshome”?

      I am just curious 🙂

    • tazabi says:


      Please understand that the Ethiopian shopkeeper does not need to speak English if his customers are primarily Ethiopians in the Washington, DC, area. Whether or not the shopkeeper needs to speak English is a decision that needs to be made by the owner of that shop, not by the Mayor of the City. If the Mayor and those like him do not like shopkeepers that do not speak English, they can go and shop somewhere else.

      If the individual is found selling marijuana to the public, then the May have a point in being mad at the shopkeeper and could take the appropriate legal action against the Ethiopian shopkeeper. But based on the TV clip, that does not appear to be the case. Simply throwing insults at the Ethiopian shopkeeper for not speaking fluent English is rubbish and hypocritical on the part of the Mayor since there are hundreds of thousands of other nationalities in the DC area that do not speak fluent English or not speak English at all. How about the Mayor doing the same thing in the Asian and Latino communities in the DC area?

      • teshome says:

        You are simply a darling Ambassador of ignorance. If that is your comfort zone, I am very okay with that.
        However there is a big BUT here, if you consider learning basic English language is uphill task, then you are born, grow up, retire and die as a shopkeeper. I am completely fine with it.
        Please don’t make a fallacy of arguments based on misinterpretation of different views other than you.
        I have clearly said it, the mayor reaction was completely wrong. Period
        And try to think critically what brought the mayor’s reaction.

  5. ነቃ በልያገርሰው says:

    first of all the mayor is ignorant and undemocratic as are all mayors in the US. but lets take this case in this way:

    Lets say the ethiopian is one of those deluded diaspora who blame the ethio. government for undemocratic treatment don’t you think this man deserves, hahahah just kiding but really those like Jawar mohammed deserve this and more as they are pupets. but not this smart ethiopian

    • democracy v demonnic crisis says:

      well said when in ethiopia arresting a terrorist is undemocratic in contrary in US not knowing the accent is terrorism and can make you be abused and hummilated. is that man a mayor or a moron

    • Ethiopian says:

      You just said “let us said the Ethiopian is one of those deluded diaspora who blame the Ethiopian government for un democratic treatment…” Where do you think you are going with this? Don’t mix orange and apple. People in Ethiopia don’t have a right to use their basic right of reading , writhing and listening to what they want, voting for who they want, living where they want, eating what they want,,,,we the Diaspora whom you live amongst have a right to criticize a mayor of the United States Capital city , and you have the audacity to blame the activist in the diaspora? I’m sure you are one of those who got your paper by giving the information of what your government back home does to the great people of Ethiopia.

      • kebraraw says:

        Dear ethiopian,
        first of all i am not those who blame their government to get papers in us and europe i just came foe education and after complition i was provided job and am working but just if you want to speak the truth and in reality is there any ethiopian who has real problem of living working or living in any part of ethiopia not at all cause i know though i don’t know as much as those who live in ethiopia but i do go to ethiopia every year and i find all my friends not much less than me in property ownership and standard of life except i drive automatic car and they drive manual gear car but here there is one thing that we should not forget there are also some of my frineds who have not changed due to their lack of using the oportunities. saying this i would like to say that ethiopian democracy is not perfect as is american but it is developing one thing we should remember when we talk about democracy we have to remember that ethopia was under authoritarian rule for centuries and to change this it is not the work of governemnt change or making the gov. democratic the main work is to change the culture of corruption and authoritarianism and this as every one can understand needs time, energy and resources considering this the move made by the ethiopian government so far is satsfactory and incouraging. lastly when the white guy tells us there is no democracy that doesn’t mean there is no it could most of the time mean there is development in that area and that the white guy is trying to disrupt it cause the us and europe got headach when they see an african country develpoing in double digit when they are not with all the resources they got which actually was robed from africa and is being robbed.

        peace for all

  6. Ash says:

    I think the shopkeeper is selling Marijuana, but he was so smart to avoid the question by looking dumb..now the mayor is talking about language not Marijuana

    • solomon says:

      I agree with you Ash, you do not have to confront a stupid person direct but you kan say to the person YOU ARE STUPID simply by saying I DO NOT KNOW . my message to the mayor is kassetun gelbtna smaw NO MORE.

      • Ilula Lemma says:

        You are trying to find an excuse for your own abuser. You do not know what is in the mayor’s mind . Here, the point is the mayor abused the shopkeeper. This act need to be condemned.

  7. sele says:

    I am proud av you dear sister Emebet Sabela, you told him what he deserve to hear. thank you once again.

  8. RETA says:

    I think the mayor is using weeds. he should for the clerk how to smell it in moody way……….the mayor considered marijuana as food and diet drink .then the mayor was wondered about the ignorance of the clerk. definitely the mayor is using weeds. take his blood and check it. I asked my wife about weeds and she does not know either. and I asked other Ethiopian guy who lived for 10 years in U.S.A,HE DOES NOT KNOW EITHER. SO NOT BIG DEAL NOT KNOW ILLICIT DRUGS EXCEPT THE USERS. THE ETHIOPIAN GUY DID NOT GIVE RECOGNITION FOR THE ILLICIT DRUGS SO HE US GOVERNMENT SHOULD AWARD HIM AND REPLACE THE WEEDS USER MAYOR BY OTHER GUY WHO DO NOT USE WEEDS. LOL

  9. Metho Ujulu says:

    Not withstanding about this case actually it is shame to live and work in America and still not well versed in English language but rather would like to celebrate our ignorance by saying, “hei you! we speak amaric in this corner of the world” Speaking amaric is good but not being able to speak the country’s working official language and its regultions in genral as well as it applies to your individual self is shame. I think people still live in Ethiopia where we are fighting for the superemacy of the amaric language. Oh, let us force the americans also to use amaric as their official language.

    • gedle says:

      This is the type of job that most new comers do until they are oriented with system and develop their language skills. No one here, including the shop keeper, claimed that english shouldn’t be learned. Is it very hard to understand? Those who speak well do find better paying jobs.

  10. Haftu says:

    The mayor is one angry man, who doesn’t want to see people come to America, and live the American dream. Live with it Mayor! He better learn from all the immigrants that come to this great nation and work hard their way to success, and tell his community that they can work hard and break the history of poverty. If the immigrants can do it with out knowing English others who are born hear can do even better, if they work hard.

  11. eshe says:

    I will give a benefit of doubt for this unlucky clerk. May be he couldn’t understand the mayor’s accent. For example when the mayor said “creation” the clerk thought he was saying “crazy”.May be this man came from ethiopia very recently and is not get used to the accent and pronounciation.Besides he thought he was probably intimidated by large crowd. Or may be he is working with out legitimate working permit and thinking of trouble he decided to answer “NO” to evry question. I don’t have the problem with mayor’s frustration but he was really insensitive how he reacted. The lesson here is We have to learn how to communicate. It is really embarrassing not to be able to communicate with your customers whether you work in stores or for NASA.

  12. Embasoleda says:

    Why we have to make this insident a big deal? As far to my understanding, the mayor might honestly commented, and the Ethiopian shopkeeper might answered to the mayor what he thought the right answer. So, pelease don’t make a big deal out of nothing…

  13. Luliit says:

    Ilula Lemma,

    “Here, the point is the mayor abused the shopkeeper. This act need to be condemned.”

    If you want to know as to what abuse means go to Saudi Arabia and other gulf states as an Ethiopian refugee and report your experience to to us. In the current case the Ethiopian is abusing his rights by himself. Blaming others for our own short comings is bad habit.

    • gedle says:

      Saudi Arabia? Don’t even mention it. We are not in the business of comparing the great United States with the land of sub human nomads who could never see a glimpse of civilization even though they have bleeded the earth for decades to the tunes of trillions. Don’t you feel like comparing bulls with human? Of. Ourse the mayor is another uncivilized abuser. Not being able to speak english is not a crime or an embarrassment. Many world renowned scientists, Nobel laureates and philosophers do not speak english and when they come to the US they go through thesame situation as the shshopkeeper but they are not mocked.This poor sshopkeeper was mistreated by the arrogant and ignorant mayor because he is vulnerable. Knowledgeable and humble person doesn’t behave erratically the way this ignorant behaved. He thinks that every human is dopping the way be does. Just because they cut hands and neck in Saudi doesn’t mean we should appreciate a slap in DC.

  14. Lala says:

    It is wrong to presume everyone knows Marijauna or … there are people who have no interest to know about drug. I am one of them. I have never touched drug or anything. I have no interest to know it. I come across like this funny thing. Why is he supposed to know Marijauna? It is silly honestly. I once came across like this. A guy asked someone to light up his cigarette and the never smoked or never know about cigarette. He light the cigarette on the wrong side. Then the owner of the cigarette yelled and abused the guy why he did not know how to light up cigarette? There are stupid people out there who think you should know everything. I personally have no interest to know even the name of drugs. Why am I supposed to know?

    • gedle says:

      Tha k you! You have said it very well. Every one thinks everyone is like them. A thief thinks everyone around him is a thief. There are people who come from the remot country side of Ethiopia, specially these days. I have personally met Ethiopians who have no clue about many things. Some coments seem to be written bypeople from other countries because their understanding of EEthiopia is totally un factual.

  15. Abegaz says:

    The fact of the matter is you know something when you use it or you stay around with people who use it. I am not surprised if the man dores not know what a Marijuana means.In Ethiopia you do not hear news about Marijuana in TV’s or radio because Ethiopians do not smoke it or not widely known.

    If the guy is a new comer, he is not expected to know English either. In fact the Mayor should have asked him if the shop keeper speaks English when he observes his difficulty.

  16. Luliit says:


    All what you are trying to justify is that ignorace and red neck parochialism is right and to demand an all round know-hows and awareness is not necessary.

    Actually it is not your fault but the fault of the US officials who are not demanding linguistic and cultural awareness so that you and your types forcefully acquire practical knowledge as a precondiction for residence permits in this first world information society not talk of operating business establishments and customer service.

    Minority groups should not be allowed in to a highly segregated troublesome neighbourhood parochial cult ghettos where the authorities and the public as a whole may not be able to approach them for anything but leave them there to degenerate and rote in to crime pockets of anarchy and lowlessness as seen even in many European violent city neighbourhoods.

    “Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.”~Martin Luther King, Jr. 🙂

    • gedle says:

      Dear Professor Lulit:
      Who are my types? Your question by itself says a lot about your similarity with the mayor. Go ride on with him into an eternity of dumbness. I have no idea how you have become a world reknown scholar on Ethiopian shopkeepers in the ghetto. I wonder how you made it through school with out comprehending the subject matter of the courses you took, that is if you went to college. Is it that complicated to understand what me and many other’s have explained how, why and how long Ethiopians work this type of jobs? Please read “Zengu Fereja’s” comment below so that you have a better ubderstanding of the matter. Many Ethiopians that are engineers, nurses, doctors etc… started out with this types of jobs and learned english. Went to school to get where they are today. Your analysis that they will stay dumb for ever is egoistic and hypocritical. You know the facts but you just don’t like to be corrected because you are what you are. After this no one can help you to understand the issue appropriately.

  17. Yegeremew says:

    I am not surprised with the mayor’s ignorance about his surrounding, because ….

    Any way, if he had asked me the same question, the answer will be NO, because that is not the Norm. You don’t have to smoke weeds to live in DC. If that is his perception, he is WRONG!!!

    BTW he needs to be told how he failed himself, and does not deserve to be the Mayor of the beautiful city of Washington DC.

    Shame on you Mayor …

  18. Keisha says:

    Somebody should have educated the mayor at the spot the correct international name is “GQANJA”. The whole fiasco was orchastrated by the ones in power (the usual confiscaters) by taking in the front and sending out the back to the streets . He should know by now he should start internally first if he really cares about the traficking . What a joke!

  19. denden says:

    elected people lik Mayor Vincent Gary are the biggest embodiment of dumbness and he, an ashamdley is flaunting his dumb atittude, all in all this mayor is dumb ASS!!!

  20. miriam says:

    I think its not enough for us to just sit as shop keepers. We need to educate ourselfs and begin to be Americans. WEATHER WE LIKE IT OR NOT FOR MOST OF US THIS IS HOME. LETS LEARN THE LANGUAGE

  21. Zengu Fereja says:

    He was told no to say any thing except I don’t know. I understand him very well, because I was once a victim too. All Ethiopian Shop owners in the surrounding DC make their profit by employing those who are new to the country with small amount of money and long hour work, since the employee has no alternative until he get his legal status, like work permit. They always harass You like house servant called Gered in Ethiopia, sorry to say it since I don’t have any word to express what I am feeling. They treat you like a sheet, the training hour may take more than two three weeks, to get 4 hours work no trust at all, even if there is a camera to control the cashier. Half of your salary still taken by the owner to compensate for the lost money that you don’t have a chance to calculate with him. If you raise any question, he will tell you that you are a thief, he knows that you don’t have any place to go since you are illegal with no work permit. Of all these harassment’s if you are a cashier in these stores you are always at risk, because, you know that the floor you stand,the trash garbage in the store, the ATM machines are full of these marijuana named Kush, Bob Marley, Potpuri with different brands. I still have a bad feeling to put my dirt in the garbage and the ATM machine to take money out for my day today needs. Imagine a shop keeper, (FOB) fresh on board, as a new comer, with this big city and diverse culture forced to sell these sheets with no alternative to pay his bill. Even if you are caught red handed you are criminal, and the owner is not responsible, for whatever is available in the store. His excellency Vincent Grey might have the information from the community, but still lacks the prove. zengu_fereja2@yahoo.com

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  23. gedle says:

    Dear Professor Lulit:
    Who are my types? Your question by itself says a lot about your similarity with the mayor. Go ride on with him into an eternity of dumbness. I have no idea how you have become a world reknown scholar on Ethiopian shopkeepers in the ghetto. I wonder how you made it through school with out comprehending the subject matter of the courses you took, that is if you went to college. Is it that complicated to understand what me and many other’s have explained how, why and how long Ethiopians work this type of jobs? Please read “Zengu Fereja’s” comment below so that you have a better ubderstanding of the matter. Many Ethiopians that are engineers, nurses, doctors etc… started out with this types of jobs and learned english. Went to school to get where they are today. Your analysis that they will stay dumb for ever is egoistic and hypocritical. You know the facts but you just don’t like to be corrected because you are what you are. After this no one can help you to understand the issue appropriately. Don’t consider knowing marijuana a knowledge either.

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