Republican leadership in the House of Representatives shut down a prominent member of the Congressional Black Caucus after he donned a hooded sweatshirt in honor of a Florida teen who was recently gunned down by a neighborhood watch leader.
During his morning remarks on Wednesday, Rep. Bobby Rush (D-IL) observed that the racial profiling that had possibly led to Trayvon Martin being shot by George Zimmerman was often repeated across the nation.
“I applaud the young people all across the land who are making a statement about hoodies, about the real hoodlums in this nation, particularly those who tread on our laws wearing official or quasi-official clothes,” Rush said, removing his suit jacket to reveal a hoodie underneath.
“Racial profiling has to stop, Mr. Speaker,” he continued, pulling the hood over his head. “Just because someone wears a hoodie, [it] does not make them a hoodlum.”
At that point, acting Speaker Pro Tempore Greg Gregg Harper (R-MS) began to gavel for the congressmen to suspend his remarks, but Rush continued by reading Bible scripture.
“He has showed you, O man, what is good / And what does the Lord require of you? / To act justly and to love mercy / and to walk humbly with your God,” the Illinois Democrat said, citing Micah 6:8.
Adding this from Luke 4:18: “The Spirit of the Lord is on me / because he has anointed me / to proclaim the good news to the poor. / He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners / and recovery of sight to the blind, /to set the oppressed free.”
“May God bless Trayvon Martin’s soul, his family and may God bless…,” Rush shouted as Republican leaders shut down his microphone.
“The chair will ask the Serjeant-at-Arms to enforce the prohibition on décor,” Harper announced. “The chair must remind members that clause 5 of Rule VII prohibits the wearing of hats in the chamber when the House is in session. The chair finds that the donning of a hood is not consistent with this rule. Members need to remove their hoods or leave the floor.”
Rule XVII of the House of Representatives, adopted by the 112th Congress on Jan. 5, 2011, states that “[d]uring the session of the House, a Member, Delegate, or Resident Commissioner may not wear a hat or remain by the Clerk’s desk during the call of the roll or the counting of ballots.”
Watch this video from C-SPAN, broadcast March 28, 2012.
— With additional reporting by Andrew Jones