WASHINGTON — Rep. Bobby Rush donned a hoodie during a speech on the House floor Wednesday deploring the killing of Florida teenager Trayvon Martin, receiving a reprimand for violating rules on wearing hats in the House chamber.
The Illinois Democrat spoke out against racial profiling and, as he removed his suit coat and pulled the hood on the sweatshirt he was wearing underneath over his head, saying “just because someone wears a hoodie does not make them a hoodlum.”
Rush was interrupted by the presiding officer, Mississippi Republican Gregg Harper, who reminded him that the wearing of hats was not allowed and “members need to remove their hoods or leave the floor.”
On Tuesday the 17-year-old Martin’s parents spoke on Capitol Hill at a Democratic-sponsored panel on racial profiling.
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 Chicago’s Roosevelt University, won a seat on Chicago’s city council in 1983 and was elected to Congress from Chicago’s South Side in 1992. In 2000 he defeated Barack Obama, then a state senator, in a primary battle for Rush’s seat.
Rush lost a son to a shooting in 1999 and has been an advocate for victims of gun violence.