Hoodie emerges as un­likely sym­bol

Trayvon’s wardrobe a hot-but­ton topic in racial pro­fil­ing de­bate

The Washington Times Daily - - Nation - BY AN­DREA BILLUPS

The hooded sweat­shirt — or hoodie — has emerged as an un­likely sym­bol of po­lit­i­cal di­vi­sion and racial ten­sion as the con­tro­versy over the shoot­ing of an un­armed black teenager in Florida by a neigh­bor­hood watch cap­tain last month con­tin­ues to sim­mer.

Crit­ics piled on the Na­tional Ri­fle As­so­ci­a­tion on Wed­nes­day af­ter it was re­vealed that the na­tional gun lobby’s on­line store was of­fer­ing a $59.95 “con­cealed carry hoodie,” billed as “ideal for car­ry­ing your fa­vorite com­pact to mid-size pis­tol.”

And on Capi­tol Hill, a black Demo­cratic con­gress­man was ousted from the floor for vi­o­lat­ing the cham­ber’s dress code af­ter at­tempt­ing to de­liver a state­ment while wear­ing a gray hoodie with the hood pulled over his head.

The con­fronta­tion that left black high school stu­dent Trayvon Martin dead af­ter a clash with neigh­bor­hood watch vol­un­teer Ge­orge Zim­mer­man, who has a white fa­ther and His­panic mother, in a San­ford, Fla., gated com­mu­nity con­tin­ues to re­ver­ber­ate in both the po­lit­i­cal and cul­tural worlds. Trayvon was un­armed and walk­ing to his fa­ther’s fi­ancee’s house at the time of the in­ci­dent.

Florida au­thor­i­ties have brought no charges in the in­ves­ti­ga­tion, and the state’s broad “stand your ground” self-de­fense law has it­self be­come part of the de­bate in the wake of the shoot­ing.

In Washington, Rep. Bobby L. Rush, Illi­nois Demo­crat, and a mem­ber of the Con­gres­sional Black Cau­cus, con­tended the hoodie he was wear­ing sym­bol­ized the “racial pro­fil­ing” that led to Trayvon’s death.

“I ap­plaud the young peo­ple all across the land who are mak­ing a state­ment about hood­ies, about the real hood­lums in this na­tion, s p e c i f i c a l ly those who tread on our law wear­ing of­fi­cial or quasi-of­fi­cial cloaks,” said Mr. Rush, as Rep. Gregg Harper, Mis­sis­sippi Re­pub­li­can, who was pre­sid­ing over the floor as speaker, gaveled him out of or­der.

“Racial pro­fil­ing has got to stop,” Mr. Rush said. “Just be­cause some­one wears a hoodie does not make them a hood­lum.”

Af­ter Mr. Rush fin­ished and was es­corted out, Mr. Harper said House rules ban the wear­ing of hats while the cham­ber is in ses­sion, not­ing that in­cludes hoods.

Else­where, a New Or­leans po­lice of­fi­cer re­signed Wed­nes­day af­ter he posted a sharp com­ment on a lo­cal TV sta­tion web­site that had re­ported on a rally sup­port­ing Trayvon.

“Act like a thug, die like one!” Ja­son Giroir wrote.

Trayvon’s sup­port­ers also have been forced to back­track at times in the de­bate.

An ad­dress retweeted by film di­rec­tor Spike Lee, pur­port­edly of shooter Ge­orge Zim­mer­man’s San­ford house, sent the real own­ers of the home, an el­derly cou­ple, flee­ing in fear that ag­i­tated fol­low­ers might at­tempt to ex­tract their own lo­cal jus­tice.

Protests over the po­lice’s han­dling of the case have been coun­tered by new leaked in­for­ma­tion paint­ing a more com­plex por­trait of the vic­tim, the shooter and the events of Feb. 26.

The Or­lando Sen­tinel re­ported that a San­ford po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tor wanted to charge Mr. Zim­mer­man with man­slaugh­ter ini­tially, but the state at­tor­ney’s of­fice there de­clined to move ahead. Sources told the pa­per that Mr. Zim­mer­man, 28, said he acted in self-de­fense af­ter Trayvon at­tacked him as he walked back to his SUV.

Mr. Zim­mer­man is stay­ing at an undis­closed lo­ca­tion as a Jus­tice Depart­ment probe and a Florida in­ves­ti­ga­tion con­tinue. The New Black Pan­ther Party re­cently an­nounced a $10,000 bounty for his “cap­ture.”

A story posted Wed­nes­day on Thedai­ly­beast.com charted crim­i­nal in­ci­dents that had oc­curred in Mr. Zim­mer­man’s gated com­mu­nity in re­cent years. Res­i­dents re­ported mul­ti­ple break-ins and rob­beries and de­scribed the area as a “neigh­bor­hood on edge” in ad­vance of the start of a neigh­bor­hood watch as­so­ci­a­tion, which be­gan at the in­sis­tence of Mr. Zim­mer­man.

His Twin Lakes neigh­bor­hood is about 50 per­cent white, with 20 per­cent black and 20 per­cent His­panic res­i­dents, the web­site said.


The Na­tional Ri­fle As­so­ci­a­tion is of­fer­ing a “con­cealed carry hoodie,” billed as “ideal for car­ry­ing your fa­vorite com­pact to mid-size pis­tol.”

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