Rep. Bobby Rush, an Illinois Democrat, was kicked off the House floor Wednesday morning after donning a hooded sweatshirt to make a statement on the recent controversy surrounding the death of Trayvon Martin. “Racial profiling has to stop Mr. Speaker. Just because someone wears a hoodie does not make them a hoodlum,” he said, as he put on sunglasses as well and began to recite Bible verses. The acting speaker Rep. Gregg Harper demanded Rush suspend his speech and asked the Sargent of Arms to “enforce the prohibition on decorum,” citing a chamber rule that bans the wearing of hats while Congress is in session.
The hoodie has become a rallying symbol for those who believe George Zimmerman, a half-Hispanic, half-white community watch guard, should be prosecuted for fatally shooting Martin, an unarmed black teenager who was wearing a hoodie at the time of the confrontation, which Martin’s family and their supporters argue was racially motivated. Geraldo Rivera added fuel to the fire when he said on Fox News that parents of black and Hispanic teens should discourage their children from wearing hooded sweatshirts. “I think the hoodie is as much responsible for Trayvon Martin’s death as George Zimmerman was.” He argued that wearing hoodie conjures up an image of criminals often seen on surveillance tapes and that if Martin “didn’t have that hoodie on that nutty neighborhood watch guy wouldn’t have responded in that violent and aggressive way.” Rivera has since apologized for the remarks, but that hasn’t made the symbolism of the hoodie any less potent for those protesting the handling of Martin’s death.
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