© 2024
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Hoodie In The House Leads To Shouting In The Capitol

Rep. Bobby Rush, D-Ill., during his hooded statement on the House floor.
Rep. Bobby Rush, D-Ill., during his hooded statement on the House floor.

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. They also argue that local police failed to appropriately investigate the claim of the shooter, George Zimmerman, that he acted in self defense.

Martin was said to have been wearing a hoodie at the time of his death. Hoodies have become an important symbol to those who believe an injustice was committed.

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.

Update at 3:45 p.m. ET. Rush's Personal Experience With Tragedy.

As The Associated Press points out:

"Rush founded the Illinois chapter of the Black Panthers in 1968 and served six months in prison for illegal possession of weapons when he was in his 20s. He went on to get a political science degree from Roosevelt University, won a seat on the Chicago City Council in 1983 and was first elected to Congress from the South Side in 1992. In 2000, he defeated then-state Sen. Barack Obama in a primary battle for Rush's seat.

"Rush lost a son to a shooting in 1999 and has been a strong advocate for victims of gun violence."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Mark Memmott is NPR's supervising senior editor for Standards & Practices. In that role, he's a resource for NPR's journalists – helping them raise the right questions as they do their work and uphold the organization's standards.