Tricorn trouble for D.C. voting rights protester
Until now, it was easy to pick out Nikolas Schiller at meetings about District oversight or voting rights: the dude in the tricorn hat.
But the artist/activist/blogger is questioning the future of his politically symbolic headgear options after Capitol Police rousted him out of a hearing Wednesday for wearing the hat.
Schiller, 29, a former co-chair of the D.C. Statehood/Green Party, took to wearing Colonial garb to hearings a few years ago to quietly protest the fact that, he said, "the status of D.C. residents has not changed since Colonial times." At one meeting he was playfully greeted by Sen. Joe Lieberman as "one of the District's oldest residents."
On Wednesday, for a meeting of the congressional subcommittee that oversees the city, Schiller donned his usual purple overcoat, ruffled shirt and hat (but jeans instead of breeches: "It wasn't as significant a hearing. ... I didn't want to go through the full lederhosen routine"). He said he was sitting in the room before it started when a staffer approached and told him to lose the hat, chairman's rules. When Schiller protested that he'd worn the same hat in the same room for years, she called the police.
Outside the room, police asked for his ID and ran his name through the FBI database. He said they also asked for his Social Security number, but he refused. He was allowed back into the hearing, bareheaded.
A spokeswoman for the subcommittee disputed some of Schiller's account, saying it "was all the Capitol Police's doing." Police did not get back to us by deadline with their side of the story. So Schiller wonders: Is this because the more raucous anti-tax "Tea Party" folks have adopted his Colonial look, too? "Are tricorn hats now illegal in hearing rooms? Are all hats illegal?"
The Reliable Source
November 19, 2009; 1:03 AM ET
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