Massachusetts Congressman Barney Frank is apologizing for a joke he made about the Trayvon Martin case at a weekend graduation ceremony.
During an address at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, he said of an honorary hooded robe given to civil rights leader Hubie Jones: "You now got a hoodie you can wear and no one will shoot at you." The comment, referring to the hoodie Martin wore when he was shot and killed earlier this year in Florida, stunned some in the audience. Frank then followed with, "I think you'll feel, I hope, pretty protected by that."
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Frank released a statement saying he has used the "play on words" at other graduation ceremonies.
"I have used the 'hoodie' line to ridicule the notion that a hooded sweatshirt is somehow sinister," the Democrat said. "I wore a hooded gown in three ceremonies earlier this year, and in my remarks at those events I used the same joke on myself."
He said he referred to Jones this time because Frank received a medal for distinguished service and not a hood at the ceremony. Some students weren't amused by the comment.
"It would have been a good statement at maybe a different occasion, depending exactly what the topic was," Agnes Oppong told WCVB. "For graduating seniors, I don't think it's appropriate."
Jones, a long-time leader in the black community in Boston and a friend of Frank's, didn't think Frank meant any harm.
"I don't think he meant to be mean-spirited," Jones told WCVB. "We do have a problem in this country. It came out at a time and occasion where it was a surprise. But you know Barney."
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