Congressman Bobby Rush spoke out Monday morning about the Trayvon Martin tribute incident that got him kicked off the floor of the House of Representatives Wednesday morning, saying that a hoodie on the head does not mean a hoodlum in the head.
The lawmaker was kicked off the floor of the U.S. House Wednesday after he donned a gray hooded sweatshirt, or hoodie, in order to make his point that someone is not a criminal just because they wear a certain clothing item.
Mr. Speaker, the death of Trayvon Martin is an American tragedy. Too often this violent act is repeated in the streets of our nation, Rush said on the House floor. Racial profiling has to stop. Just because someone wears a hoodie, does not make them a hoodlum. Just because someone is young and wears a hoodie does not make them a hoodlum. Just because someone is a young black male and wears a hoodie does not make them a hoodlum. A hood on the head does not mean a hood in the head.
The decision by Rush to wear a hoodie on the floor of the U.S. Congress comes on the heels of a number of similar moves by pastors, celebrities and ordinary citizens from New York City to California, who have worn them at the pulpit, at protests and in their Twitter profile pictures over the past couple of weeks.
The trend arose from the death of unarmed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, who was shot dead on a Florida street while wearing a hoodie and carrying an iced tea and bag of Skittles on Feb. 26 by 28-year-old George Zimmerman.
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His killing has generated a rising tide of outrage that began with his parents speaking out about the injustice of the fact that Zimmerman was not being charged or arrested, despite the fact that he admitted killing an unarmed teenager.
It snowballed in recent weeks as civil rights leaders like Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, celebrities like Spike Lee and John Legend, and even President Barack Obama weighed in with their own personal views on the topic of Trayvon Martin's death.
And now the issue has found its way to the floor of the U.S. Congress, as Congressman Bobby Rush took off his suit jacket to reveal the sweatshirt he was wearing underneath, and donned a pair of sunglasses, all in a show of solidarity with the Martin family.
As he revealed the sweatshirt, he was spoke over repeatedly by Rep. Gregg Harper, the Mississippi Republican congressman who CBS reports was serving as the chamber's presiding speaker at the time of the Wednesday incident. Harper asked Rush to suspend his remarks and observe the House's decor rules, eventually declaring that the member is no longer recognized.
It is not visible in the C-Span footage, but CBS reports that Congressman Bobby Rush was then escorted from the House floor.
Harper went on to explain to his remaining house colleagues that the chair will ask the sergeant-at-arms to enforce the prohibition on decorum, pointing out that hats are prohibited in the House chamber while it is in session, adding that hoods are barred under that rule.
Watch a video of Congressman Bobby Rush putting his hood up on the floor of the U.S. House, and Harper's ensuing response, by clicking play below: