On the floor of the House this morning, Rep. Bobby Rush’s effort to call attention to the death of Florida teenager Trayvon Martin turned into a contest of wills between the Illinois Democrat and the presiding officer because Rush donned a hoodie while speaking.
It’s against the rules to wear hats in the chamber when the House is in session. But Rush slipped a hood over his head in an symbolic act of solidarity with Martin’s family and supporters, who say the 17-year-old African-American was the victim of racial profiling by a neighborhood watch volunteer who shot him on Feb. 26.
The scene today on the House floor, which you also can see thanks to this clip at C-SPAN.org:
As Rush began to speak to the House, he removed a suit jacket to reveal that underneath he was wearing a hooded jacket.
“Racial profiling has to stop,” he said. “Just because someone wears a hoodie does not make them a hoodlum.” It was then that Rush pulled the hood over his head and Rep. Gregg Harper, R-Miss., who was in the presiding chair, tried to stop him.
Bang, bang, bang went the gavel. “The member will suspend!” Harper said several times.
Meanwhile, Rush turned to quotes from the Bible. It teaches us, he said in a rising voice, “to do justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”
“The spirit of the Lord is upon because he has anointed me to proclaim the good news!” Rush continued.
Then, as he said “may God bless Trayvon Martin’s soul, his family,” Harper declared that Rush was no longer recognized and the lawmaker’s microphone went off. Harper then reminded lawmakers of the rule about hats.
He was then escorted off the House floor by a rep. from the Sergeant at Arms office.
Though Rep. Rush is the most prominent elected official to date who has worn a hoodie to “the office” while trying to conduct official business, sadly he’s not the only one. From WHDH – Boston:
BOSTON (WHDH) — Local lawmakers have joined the calls for justice, wearing hoodies similar to Trayvon Martin’s.
From Beacon Hill to Capitol Hill, lawmakers are showing up to work wearing hoodies to show solidarity with supporters of Trayvon Martin.
The African American teenager was shot to death in Florida last month by George Zimmerman, a volunteer neighborhood watchman, who claims self defense.
Zimmerman hasn’t been charged with anything by police, touching off a national outcry over racial profiling.
State Representative Cheryl Coakley-Rivera of Springfield said about a dozen of her colleagues wore hoodies on Wednesday.
“I called for Reps. to join me with a hoodie on, obviously to call for justice for Trayvon and his family, and to bring awareness to racial stereotyping that caused Trayvon to be murdered,” State Rep. Coakley-Rivera said.
And in New York state:
ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — Six New York state senators wore “hoodies” in the staid, 235-year-old Capitol chamber to express their outrage at the deadly shooting of a black youth in Florida that they blame on public attitudes born in New York City.
The Democrats from the city, four of them black and two white, wore their gray and blue suit jackets over their hoodies, remaining in conformance with the Senate rules in the 62-seat chamber. There was no comment from the Republican majority.
“It was born here in New York City and now it has cascaded all the way down to the southern coast of Florida,” said Sen. Eric Adams, a Democrat and former sergeant with the New York City Police Department. “The stop-and-frisk policy gave birth not only to police officers believing that a person of color is automatically a criminal, now it has grown into the civilian patrol units.”
There are photos of the various legislators in their hoodies at all the links listed above.
The most troubling hoodie photo I’ve seen today, however, comes not from state legislatures and the US House but instead what I presume is a school classroom. It was Tweeted earlier today, and the vague description was “The 2nd graders tribute to #trayvon … Hoodies, Ice tea, skittles.”
I don’t know the name of the school. Frankly, I don’t want to know. My disgust at this happening caught the attention of popular liberal “blogger” tbogg, who responded:
— TBogg (@tbogg) March 28, 2012
Such New Tone-y goodness …
Anyway, regarding Rep. Rush and the other liberal elected officials/nitwits currently tapdancing on the grave of a dead Florida teenager for shameless political gain, these episodes are what I would call a “teachable moment” for America. Instead of calling for cooler heads to prevail, and demanding/initiating civil but spirited discussion about the REAL crime epidemic in America – black on black violence – some elected officials that may represent you and/or I decided instead to engage in childish grandstanding and stunt playing all under the pretense of doing “the business of the people.” And just think, Rep. Rush, a former Black Panther himself, could have used the opportunity on the floor of the US House to loudly denounce and condemn the actions of the New Black Panthers, who have put a $10,000 bounty on George Zimmerman’s head.
But no. I almost forgot that candid debates about crime and race in America (including “racial profiling”), where we could work together to find real, lasting solutions that would benefit ALL races, isn’t what this is about, anyway. My bad.
Update – 8:29 PM: St. Paul council members wear hoodies in support of Trayvon Martin