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Tricorn trouble for D.C. voting rights protester

Nikolas Schiller (at right, in purple coat and hat) listens as Utah Gov. Jon M. Huntsman Jr. testifies at a D.C. voting rights hearing in 2006. At left is then-mayoral candidate Adrian Fenty; then-D.C. Mayor Anthony Williams is between Fenty and Schiller. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

A portrait provided by Schiller.

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?"

By The Reliable Source  |  November 19, 2009; 1:03 AM ET
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Why does this article tiptoe around the name of the committee, and the committee chairman?

Posted by: douglaslbarber | November 18, 2009 10:16 PM | Report abuse

Sorry, awkward trims intended to help the story fit its print space. For the record, it's the House
Committee on Oversight and Government Reform's Federal Workforce, Postal Service and the District of Columbia Subcommittee, chaired by Rep. Stephen F. Lynch (D-Mass.).

Posted by: The Reliable Source | November 19, 2009 12:55 AM | Report abuse

Another self important Hill staffer from the middle of nowhere playing the big shot. Its such a broken record.

Posted by: SoCali | November 19, 2009 11:46 AM | Report abuse

Gentlemen remove their hats when indoors.

Posted by: rlj1 | November 19, 2009 12:05 PM | Report abuse


So true.

Any colonial gentleman would certainly have removed his hat indoors (at a legal proceeding no less).

Posted by: bflorhodes | November 19, 2009 12:16 PM | Report abuse

Perhaps a powdered wig would be more appropriate.

Posted by: Moorez | November 21, 2009 12:53 AM | Report abuse


Posted by: Alsatian1 | November 21, 2009 9:07 AM | Report abuse

OK Reliable Source: You treated Michelle Rhee as a celebrity announcing her engagement to KJ! Why aren't you writing about the scandal that has re-surfaced again? KJ's allegations of sexual misconduct of students at ST. Hope's and Rhee assistance at covering it up is news worthy. This is the woman charged with making great decisions for DC's children. NOT!!!!!!

Posted by: candycane1 | November 22, 2009 7:52 AM | Report abuse

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