(Slain teen Trayvon Martin)
By Gil Kaufman
If you follow Fox News correspondent Geraldo Rivera’s logic, a gun didn’t kill Florida teenager Trayvon Martin, a hoodie did. The outspoken Rivera raised lots of eyebrows–and drew fire from Roots drummer ?uestlove–after Friday morning’s “Fox & Friends” broadcast when he suggested that the unarmed 17-year-old victim Martin may have been as much to blame as uncharged gunman George Zimmerman. Why?
“I am urging the parents of black and Latino youngsters particularly to not let their children go out wearing hoodies. I think the hoodie is as much responsible for Trayvon Martin’s death as George Zimmerman was,” said Rivera, who went on to add that he believes “overzealous” Zimmerman should be investigated to the fullest extent of the law and prosecuted if he is found criminally liable.
But, Rivera said, Martin’s hoodie was, in his mind, part of “an outfit that allowed someone to respond in this irrational, overzealous way.”
Rivera’s comments came two days after hundreds of New Yorkers took to the streets on Wednesday for the “Million Hoodie March,” during which they called for justice for Martin. The case has also drawn support from many in the hip-hop community, including Young Jeezy, Big Boi, Wyclef Jean and the always-outspoken ?uestlove of the Roots.
Questo went in on Rivera on Twitter, asking on Friday morning, “@GeraldoRivera should @kimkardashian stop creating perfume to avoid flour bombs?,” referring to the reality star’s flour attack from the day before at an event celebrating her latest fragrance.
He also had choice words for Rivera’s attempt to make the issue personal by bringing his “dark skinned” son, Cruz Rivera, into the mix. “When you, when you see a kid walking … particularly a dark skinned kid like my son Cruz, who I constantly yelled at when he was going out wearing a damn hoodie or those pants around his ankles,” Rivera said. “Take that hood off, people look at you and they — what do they think? What’s the instant identification, what’s the instant association?” When even the show’s host sensed that Rivera had strayed into a weird territory, the mustachioed TV veteran had a simple answer.
“It’s those crime scene surveillance tapes,” he explained. “Every time you see someone sticking up a 7-11, the kid is wearing a hoodie. Every time you see a mugging on a surveillance camera or they get the old lady in the alcove, it’s a kid wearing a hoodie. You have to recognize that this whole stylizing yourself as a gangsta, you’re gonna be a gangsta wannabe? Well, people are going to perceive you as a menace. That’s what happens … You can not rehabilitate the hoodie.”
Quest wasn’t buying it, later tweeting, “@GeraldoRivera no quite the opposite. This was a case of racial profiling. Drill into kids heads not to racially profile … Sorry @GeraldoRivera, what I gotta stroll around rocking a tux 24 7 so I can put others who are ignorant at ease? What about the OTHER side.”
When Politico later asked Rivera if he wished to retract his statement, he replied, “absolutely not,” pointing them to an earlier column he published before the appearance on Latino Fox News that made a similar argument.