While speaking on the House of Representatives floor on Thursday, Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.) donned a hoodie to show solidarity with slain Florida teen Trayvon Martin. This caused Rep. Gregg Harper (R-Miss.), who was presiding over the House at the time, to scold Rush and have him escorted from the chamber.
Rush had been wearing the hoodie beneath his suit jacket while addressing the House to call for a full investigation into Martin’s death. “Racial profiling has got to stop,” he said. “Just because someone wears a hoodie does not make them a hoodlum.” He then removed his jacket and pulled up the hood of the hoodie. Harper began to pound his gavel as Rush recited Bible verses. Harper then declared that Rush was out of order and had him removed from the House floor.
Harper justified his actions by citing a long-standing rule that forbids House members from wearing hats on the floor. The House of Representatives has strict rules governing decorum and how members are allowed to dress.
Democratic leaders, including Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Ca.) and Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.), declined to criticize Harper’s action, saying that as presiding officer, he had the right to enforce decorum as he saw fit. Pelosi said that she believes Rush deserves a “great deal of credit” for wearing the hoodie on the House floor knowing that he would be out of order.
Martin had been wearing a hoodie when he was shot and killed by neighborhood watchman George Zimmermann on the night of February 26. Some observers, including journalist Geraldo Rivera, blamed the hoodie for giving Martin a threatening appearance that might have intimidated Zimmermann, although Rivera later apologized for his comments. Since then, the garment has become a symbol for those who want Martin’s death investigated, with protesters, lawmakers, celebrities, athletes, the Broadway community and others donning hoodies.
Read more at The Washington Post.