Geraldo throws 'hoodies' into shooting mix

March 24, 2012 at 11:59 AM
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NEW YORK, March 24 (UPI) -- Fox News host Geraldo Rivera said he suspected Trayvon Martin's hooded sweat shirt played a role in the controversial shooting death of the Florida teenager.

Rivera, in fact, Friday urged parents of black and Latino teenagers to prevent their kids from going out while wearing the popular "hoodies" because they can draw suspicion to them.

"I think the hoodie is as much responsible for Trayvon Martin's death as much as George Zimmerman was," Rivera said on "Fox and Friends."

Martin, 17, was killed last month in a confrontation with Zimmerman, who was packing a gun while volunteering for the neighborhood watch in his Sanford subdivision. Zimmerman, who has not been charged, claimed he fired in self defense.

Martin's death has turned into a nationwide civil-rights scandal, particularly because Martin was unarmed and had been merely passing through Zimmerman's neighborhood. Wearing hooded sweatshirts has become a symbol of protest nationwide, the Los Angeles Times said.

But Rivera speculated it was the sweatshirt that actually sparked the fatal confrontation.

"I bet you money, if he didn't have that hoodie on, that nutty neighborhood watch guy wouldn't have responded in that violent and aggressive way," Rivera said.

Rivera said crime-scene surveillance footage often features a culprit wearing a hood to conceal his or her identity, which can build up negative impressions among many whites.

"You have to recognize that this whole stylizing yourself as a gangster -- you're going to be a 'gangsta' wannabe? Well, people are going to perceive you as a menace," he said.

The Rev. Jesse Jackson indicated he wasn't buying the theory. The civil-rights leader told Politico making sweatshirts a point of contention was a distraction from the case.

"He was killed because of racial profiling," Jackson said. "He was running from the guy, the guy was advised (by a police dispatcher) not to pursue him, he pursued him and killed him, then walked away and is still free," Jackson said.

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