Fox News host Geraldo Rivera said Friday he believed Trayvon Martin would not have been fatally shot by a neighborhood watch captain had he not been wearing a "hoodie" sweatshirt.
Rivera called on parents to stop their kids from going out in public dressed that way, Politico reported. The news site later reported that Rivera said his own son was "ashamed" of him for his remarks.
“I am urging the parents of black and Latino youngsters particularly to not let their children go out wearing hoodies,” Rivera wrote on the Fox News website. “I think the hoodie is as much responsible for Trayvon Martin’s death as George Zimmerman was.”
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Martin, a black teenager from Florida, was shot and killed last month by George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch captain who was armed with a handgun.
The Justice Department announced earlier this week that it would launch an independent investigation into the shooting, as mobs of furious protesters are demanding that Zimmerman -- who claimed he shot Martin in self-defense -- be arrested, CNN reported.
Sanford Police Chief Bill Lee also announced he was stepping down "temporarily" as head of the department, which has been criticized for its handling of the fatal shooting, according to CNN.
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In his column Friday, Rivera claimed that wearing a hoodie can draw “dark-skinned” kids unwanted attention because of the negative associations attached to people that dress to look like “a gangsta.”
“When you see a kid walking down the street, 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 wrote.
“It’s those crime scene surveillance tapes. Every time you see someone sticking up a 7-Eleven, the kid’s 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 going to be a gangsta wannabe? Well, people are going to perceive you as a menace,” he wrote.
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But later Rivera admitted his words had made his son ashamed.
“Gabriel broke my heart. He’s my oldest, 32, and he just told me that for the first time in his life he’s ashamed of what I wrote on" Fox News Latino, Rivera was quoted as writing in an e-mail to Politico.
“I wrote him, and I’m telling you that my mission is to save kids’ lives in the real world,” Rivera reportedly wrote, adding in a subsequent message, “Gabriel wrote back to say I’ve gone viral for all the wrong reasons" and adding a frowning icon.
View all of our Trayvon Martin coverage.