WASHINGTON--House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi said Thursday Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.) "deserves a great deal of credit" for wearing a hoodie on the House floor --in deliberate violation of dress rules--in the wake of the murder of Trayvon Martin.
Rush was gaveled out of order on Wednesday by the presiding officer, Rep. Gregg Harper (R-Miss.), and escorted out of the chamber as Harper said--as if it happens every day--"Members need to remove their hoods or leave the floor."
Rush was admonished after he started speaking in the well of the House and took off his suit coat--revealing the hoodie under it--and put the hood over his head. Rush knowingly broke House rules to make the point that wearing a hoodie does not make a black man a hoodlum.
Pelosi was asked about Rush's hoodie-in-the-House during a press conference.
"I think that Bobby Rush deserves a great deal of credit for the courage he had to go to the floor in a hoodie knowing that he would be put -- told that he was out of order, and he quickly left the floor.
"He didn't -- he wasn't contentious about it. But he made his point. He called attention to a situation in our country that needs to be addressed in a way that a man in a suit and tie might not be able to do," she said.
Pelosi said while members need to serve with "dignity," she added, "I'm more concerned about what they say on the floor and the policies that they put forth... that are relevant to the lives of the American people. This, I think, falls into the fairly irrelevant."
Rush created an iconic image--hooded and in sunglasses-- in the well of the House. A minister, he said the well to him represents an "altar" for "the American people."
He told me he hopes his act will inspire young people grappling with the troubling circumstance surrounding the murder of Martin, who was wearing a hoodie--and the reluctance of the police to arrest the suspect, George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer.
"Sometimes you have to step outside what is acceptable and make a statement about a lack of justice," Rush said.
Rush said he wears hoodies all the time--and had one in his locker in the House gym that said "Illinois"--but got another because he did not want to wear a team hoodie when he spoke.