LOWER MANHATTAN, NY (PIX11)—A vocal, but condemned show of support for Trayvon Martin on Capitol Hill got support from lawmakers in New York City, as they carried out their own demonstration calling for justice in the wake of the killing of the Florida teen.
In the House of Representatives early Wednesday afternoon, Rep. Bobby Rush, a Democrat who represents President Barack Obama's home district of South Chicago, removed his suit jacket to reveal a gray hoodie underneath. He put on the hood as he said, "Just because someone wears a hoodie does not make them a hoodlum."
Speaker Pro Tempore Gregg Harper, a Republican from Mississippi in charge of running the House session, banged his gavel repeatedly after Rush began speaking, and demanded that the Illinois congressman's statements in support of Trayvon Martin be struck from the daily record. Harper also ordered Rush escorted away from the podium before Rush finished speaking.
"That's crazy," New York city council member Melissa Mark-Viverito said to PIX11 News, which first broke the news of the Capitol Hill incident to her. "He was sanctioned and escorted out?"
Mark-Viverito, a Democrat who represents Upper Manhattan and part of the Bronx, had organized a city council demonstration in support of Trayvon Martin that took place at roughly the same time as Rep. Rush's speech. Mark-Viverito was wearing a hoodie as part of the protest she organized with fellow council member Letitia James.
"It's a shame and its outrageous that he was disciplined," Council Member James, a Brooklyn Democrat, said about the incident involving Rep. Rush, "And I will stand with him."
At issue, however, was not necessarily what the congressman in his tenth term said on the House floor about the unarmed 17 year-old shot and killed by neighborhood watch captain George Zimmerman. The issue that prompted the House speaker to rule Rush out of order was what South Chicago politician was wearing. The hood was in violation of a published House rule.
"The rule is," The speaker pro tem said from the speaker's dais after ordering Rush removed, "No wearing of hats while the chamber is in session."
Meanwhile, on the front steps of New York City Hall in Lower Manhattan, more than 30 members of the 51-person city council, including Speaker Christine Quinn, demonstrated in support of Trayvon Martin. Wednesday was the first day the full council was in session since the Martin story went global. The council also approved a resolution calling for a thorough investigation in the case of the Sanford, Florida teen's shooting death.
At the City Hall rally, council members mentioned some key developments in the case. "The detective on the spot said that he should have been arrested for manslaughter!" Council Member Robert Jackson, who represents Upper Manhattan, shouted, referring to new information about Trayvon Martin's shooter, George Zimmerman, 28.
New information that's leaked from the police department in Sanford, Florida, where Trayvon Martin's shooting took place, indicates that on the night of the shooting, Feb. 26th, the lead homicide investigator, Chris Serino, did not believe Zimmerman's account of the encounter that left Trayvon Martin dead, and petitioned to have Zimmerman arrested on manslaughter charges.
The local prosecutor, however, decided there wasn't enough evidence in the case to convict, so officers released Zimmerman, as well as his gun and other key evidence.
Back at City Hall Wednesday, though, council members demonstrated not only in support of Trayvon Martin, but also called for an end to NYPD cops profiling New Yorkers. In an ironic moment of unintended political theater, some of the council members made statements just as a couple dozen uniformed officers happened to arrive at City Hall for an event.