Following in the footsteps of the Miami Heat, Illinois Democratic Rep. Bobby Rush wore a hoodie on the House floor this morning, in protest of the tragic shooting death of Florida teen Trayvon Martin, and racial profiling in general.
Allotted five minutes to speak on racial profiling and the Martin case by presiding officer Gregg Harper (R-Mississippi), Rush said:
"This violent act that resulted in the murder of Trayvon Martin is repeated in the streets of our 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 lawns wearing official or quasi-official clothes."
Rush — who has represented Illinois' 1st Congressional District since 1993 — then proceeded to pull a Clark Kent, removing his suit jacket to reveal a gray hoodie underneath, which he pulled over his head, as he replaced his regular glasses with sunglasses. Rush said, "Racial profiling has to stop, Mr. Speaker. Just because someone wears a hoodie does not make them a hoodlum." He then went on to dramatically quote from the Bible (Isaiah and Luke) to bolster his point.
The House appeared flustered as Harper repeatedly banged his gavel, invoking the dress code (no hats in the chamber) to stand in for his nervousness. Declaring that Rush was "no longer recognized" (ironic words indeed!), Harper asked that the sergeant-at-arms escort the Chicago congressman out.
The details in the Martin case are fuzzy, but most understand that, armed only with Skittles and Arizona Iced Tea, the victim was hardly a threat. And as polarizing as someone like Al Sharpton might be, if not for he and other prominent African-Americans speaking out, the whole case would have likely in large part been ignored. So it's hard not to admire Rush in this particular case. There's another Rush who I'm sure doesn't feel the same.