Rush, a 10-term lawmaker from Chicago, began his remarks concealing a grey hoodie beneath a suit jacket.
“The death of Trayvron Martin is indeed an American tragedy,” he began. “Too often this violent act that resulted in the murder of Trayvon Martin is repeated in the streets of our nation.”
Rush said he applauded “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 then took off his jacket and said, “Racial profiling has to stop, Mr. Speaker.”
“Just because someone wears a hoodie,” he said as he pulled the hood over his head, “does not make them a hoodlum.”
At this point, the Speaker pro tempore, Rep. Gregg Harper, slammed the gavel in an attempt to break Rush’s speech and warn him about breaking the dress code.
“The Bible teaches us, Mr. Speaker,…” Rush said as he was cut off repeatedly by Harper. Still, he continued to recite scripture through Harper’s instructions and banging of the gavel.
“‘The spirit of the lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim the good news to the poor,’” Rush preached, quoting Luke 4:18. “‘He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and to recover sight to the blind, to set the oppressed free.’ I urge all who hear these words to heed these lessons. May God bless Trayvon Martin’s soul, his family, –”
At this point, Rush’s microphone was cut off and he finally left the well of the chamber. Harper then warned members against breaking the dress code.
“The chair will ask the Sergeant at Arms to enforce the prohibition on décor,” Harper announced. “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. 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.”
Martin’s parents visited Capitol Hill Tuesday to participate in a forum organized by House Judiciary Democrats on racial profiling and hate crimes. Rush, a former member of the Black Panthers during the late 1960s and early 1970s, also attended the briefing.