Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.) on Thursday condemned what he called Rep. Bobby Rush’s (D-Ill.) “immature gimmickry” in wearing a hooded sweatshirt on the House floor earlier this week.
The Tea Party favorite said in wearing the hoodie, Rush could have been someone who “walked off of the street.”
“Initially, they did not know who it was and they were concerned that someone had just walked off of the street or kind of had broken away from a tour group,” West said on conservative Laura Ingraham’s radio show.
“Look, this is the type of immature gimmickry we see coming from the other side that you know, does not have any place, especially on the House floor and really in the United States,” he continued.
Rush, while delivering a speech defending Trayvon Martin on Wednesday, took off his suit jacket to reveal the sweatshirt and then pulled up the hood. His attire broke a House rule against hats, but he continued to speak after the presiding officer declared him out of order.
Hoodies have become symbolic in the case of Martin, a black 17-year-old killed by a neighborhood watch volunteer in Florida last month. Martin was wearing a hoodie when he was shot, and some have speculated that his attire contributed to the confrontation before his death.
Martin was unarmed. His shooter, George Zimmerman, said he was acting in self-defense.
The case has generated political controversy, with some lawmakers — including several from the Congressional Black Caucus, of which both Rush and West are members — asserting racial profiling was involved.
“Just because someone wears a hoodie does not make them a hoodlum,” Rush said in his speech.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said this week that Rush showed “courage” in wearing the hoodie knowing he would be found out of order and ejected from the House chamber. Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said Rush broke the rules, and defended their enforcement.
West called the Martin case a “tragedy.”
“We need to allow the investigation to continue on,” he said, and added that since Martin was unarmed, someone — likely the shooter, who remains free due to his claim to self-defense under the state's "Stand Your Ground" law — needs to be held accountable.