A member of the U.S. House of Representatives was removed from the floor Wednesday after giving a speech about Florida teen Trayvon Martin while wearing a hoodie, according to CNN.
Rep. Bobby Rush, D-Illinois, told House members, "racial profiling has to stop," as he took off his suit jacket and pulled a gray hoodie over his head and put on sunglasses.
"Just because someone wears a hoodie does not make them a hoodlum," said the African-American congressman.
Rush spoke during the morning session, when members are permitted to address any issue of their choice, during which he praised those across the US who are wearing hoodies to protest the shooting of Martin who was wearing a hooded sweatshirt when he was killed by a neighborhood watchman in Sanford, Florida.
Immediately after Rush placed the hoodie over his head, Rep. Greg Harper, R-Mississippi, who was presiding over the House floor, raised his gavel to tell Rush that he was out of order.
However, undeterred Rush ignored Harper, and continued to speak, while citing the Bible, hoodie in all.
Harper continued to slam the gavel down in displeasure. "The gentleman will suspend. The member is no longer recognized," he said. "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."
A floor clerk then approached Rush as he finished speaking and led him out from the podium and off of the floor.
Rush told CNN that the purpose of wearing the hoodie was to send a message to young people, "to stand their ground, stand up and don't stand down."
Concerning the house rule banning hats, Rush rather comically pointed to his hooded shirt and argued, "this is not a hat, this is a hoodie."
"I don't mind being out of order if it means standing up for truth and justice," he said.
He said that the public debate over Martin's death is a continuation of the the civil rights movement that he participated in during the 1960's. "This is just another part of the struggle. I've never left those days. Those days are deep down in my soul."
Rush also stated that, "Many people have given their lives so I can be here and once I got here I can't forget whose shoulders I'm standing on."
The Illinois congressman said that he understood that he was out-of-line with regard to the House rules, but added that he was able to finish his speech.
"A lot of it was theatrical, but I wanted the message to go forward," he said.
Finally, Rush said that he and Rep. Jackie Speier, D-California, are in the midst of organizing a group of House members wearing hoodies in protest of the Florida teen's death on the East Front of the Capitol later this week.
The national uproar since the shooting of Trayvon Martin earlier this month has only increased as time has gone by with regards to race and whether it was a factor in his death.
Accordingly, Rush's protest is not so much about breaking a house rule, but is more about his belief that congress should not stand by racial profiling that the congressman believes influenced the neighborhood watchman who shot Trayvon Martin.
As the ongoing investigation continues and the true facts of the case begin to surface we will see whether race was a factor in the shooting. But for now, one thing is for sure and that is that this case and the controversy surrounding it is not going away any time soon.
What do you think?
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