Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.) was escorted from the House floor March 28 after he donned a hoodie and sunglasses and delivered a speech protesting the shooting death of Trayvon Martin and decrying racial profiling. After his remarks he was escorted out by members of the office of the House Seargeant at Arms.

“Racial profiling has to stop,” he told his colleagues March 28. Then, according to an AP article, he removed his suit coat. Drawing a hooded sweatshirt over his head and replacing his horn-rimmed spectacles with sunglasses, he added, “Just because someone wears a hoodie, does not make them a hoodlum. Just because someone is young and wears a hoodie does not make them a hoodlum. Just because someone is a young Black male and wears a hoodie does not make them a hoodlum.
“A hood on the head does not mean a hood in the head.”

“I applaud the young people across this nation who are making a statement about hoodies and the real hoodlums particularly those who tread on our laws wearing official or quasi-official cloaks,” Rush said in his speech.

According to the AP article, Rush was interrupted by the presiding officer, Rep. Gregg Harper (R-Miss.), who reminded him of the chamber’s rule against wearing hats while on the House floor and said “Members need to remove their hoods or leave the floor.”

Trayvon Martin has become the modern-day poster child of the centuries-long practice of racial profiling. The 17-year-old African-American was unarmed and walking from a convenience store to the home of his father’s girlfriend when he encountered George Zimmerman, a Neighborhood Watch volunteer, who told a 911 non-emergency dispatcher that the youth looked “real suspicious.”

The youth challenged the armed Neighborhood Watch volunteer and, a few minutes later Martin was dead from a gunshot wound that Zimmerman said he fired.

Zimmerman has not been arrested, prompting allegations of police misconduct and national scrutiny of Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law.

Zenitha Prince

Special to the AFRO