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Missouri lawmakers wear hoodies for slain Florida teen Trayvon Martin

JEFFERSON CITY | Three Democratic lawmakers donned hoodies on the floor of the Missouri House Thursday morning to protest the killing of Trayvon Martin, the unarmed Florida teenager who was shot to death last month by a neighborhood watch volunteer.

Reps. John Rizzo of Kansas City, Steven Webb of Florissant and Chris Carter of St. Louis said their only goal was to send the message that justice has not been served in Martin’s death.

“It’s important people understand the injustice that has gone on,” Rizzo said. “That’s what this was about.”

The neighborhood watch volunteer who shot Martin, Gary Zimmerman, told police the African American teen looked suspicious because he was wearing a hoodie. He admits shooting Martin but says he did so in self defense.

The racially-charged incident has sparked national outrage and demonstrations, including a rally on Monday in Kansas City. Police have said that Zimmerman is protected by a Florida law that allows someone who feels threatened to “stand their ground” and use deadly force to defend themselves.

Missouri has a similar law on the books.

“And this legislature has tried to pass even worse laws that would make it even tougher for people like Mr. Zimmerman to be prosecuted,” Carter said.

When he was killed, Martin was walking back from a convenience store with only a cell phone, a bag of Skittles and an iced tea.

At each of these protests, wearing a hoodie has become the focal point. A hoodie even made its way onto the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives, where Illinois Democratic Rep. Bobby Rush wore one in honor of Martin and was subsequently escorted out of the chamber.

Representatives aren’t allowed to wear headgear on the floor.

Republican leadership allowed the three Democrats to conduct their tribue to Martin, even though wearing the hoodie violates Missouri House rules as well.

“Wearing a hoodie is not a reason for someone to be shot,” Carter said. “Like the president said, it could have been his son. It could have been your son. We just wanted to let Trayvon's family know that we stand with them and hope they get justice."

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