Congressman removed from House floor for wearing “hoodie”

WASHINGTON — Congressman Bobby Rush was reprimanded on the floor of the House  of Representatives Wednesday after he delivered a floor speech wearing a hoodie  and sunglasses to protest the death of Florida teen Trayvon Martin.

“Racial profiling has to stop, Mr. Speaker,” Rush said as he removed his suit  jacket to reveal a gray hoodie and proceeded to don a pair of sunglasses. “Just  because you wear a hoodie does not make you a hoodlum.”

At that point, he was interrupted by the presiding speaker of the chamber,  Mississippi Republican Gregg Harper.

“The chair must remind members that clause 5 of rule 17 prohibits the wearing  of hats in the chamber when the House is in session,” Harper said, loudly  banging his gavel to restore order to the chamber.

However, Rush (D-Ill.) continued to deliver his speech with Harper repeatedly  interrupting him to note “the member is no longer recognized.”

Harper asked the Sergeant at Arms to enforce the House prohibition on hats in  the chamber.

“Members need to remove their hoods or leave the floor,” Harper said as Rush  finished his speech and walked away.

Martin, a 17-year-old unarmed African American, was shot and killed Feb. 26  by self-appointed neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman in Sanford, Fla.,  sparking a national debate about racial profiling and “Stand Your Ground” laws.  Zimmerman, who has not been charged, has said he acted in self-defense.

Afterward, Rush — a former Black Panther who holds the distinction of being  the only person to ever defeat President Barack Obama in an election when he  defeated him in a congressional primary in 2000 — told FOX News Channel he  understood the speaker had to fulfill his duties.

“Some of us in the House know the importance of civil disobedience and  sometimes it makes a difference,” he said. “Sometimes decorum has to take a back  seat.”

“I think the spotlight was on me and the speaker had to respond and I  understand the speaker had to respond,” he added.

Asked what she thought of Rush’s protest, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi  (D-Calif.) noted that 25 years ago, women were not allowed to wear pantsuits on  the floor.

“I’m more concerned about the words than whether someone wears a hoodie on  the floor,” she said.

Afterward, Martin’s parents praised Rush for his demonstration,  telling The Washington Post they were touched by his show of support.


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