U.S.

Democratic Congressman Keeps Hanging Painting Back Up That Depicts Cops as Pigs

Democratic Congressman Keeps Hanging Painting Back Up That Depicts Cops as Pigs

The painting, by then-high school senior David Pulphus, was a victor in the House of Representatives' "Artistic Discovery" art contest for high school students.

Rep. Lacy Clay (D-MO) and others were urging Capitol Police to press charges against a Republican congressman who last week removed a piece of artwork by one of his constituents that depicted police officers as pigs.

A group of Republican lawmakers, backed by law enforcement advocates, are engaged in an increasingly aggressive public clash with members of the Congressional Black Caucus over a high school work of art depicting police officers with animal heads.

The painting, which depicts a pig in a police uniform aiming a gun at a protester, is now hanging on a wall on Capitol Hill. Tuesday morning, members from the Congressional Black Caucus led by Clay re-hung the painting and held a ceremony to celebrate restoring it to its place on the wall. Clay stated, "It's not about defending an art contest".

Rep. Duncan Hunter of California removed the painting from the exhibit on Friday and delivered it to Clay's office. Without endorsing its depiction of police as pigs, Clay says the painting reflects an important emotional statement that can't be reduced to "political controversy". Soon after, Clay returned the painting to its original space. But what happened in Ferguson has been part of an ongoing national debate about race relations with law enforcement and the criminal justice system. He also said it violates the rules of the art competition.

"I just felt it was something that had to be done", U.S. Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-California said.

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As Clay re-hung the painting Tuesday afternoon, he told reporters, "it has become a very childish charade" and added that he is "getting a little dizzy" having to keep putting the painting back up - but vowed to "be persistent in protecting my constituent's constitutional rights of free speech". "When you think about the civility and decorum of the House of Representatives, the institution has really gone down in my opinion if we are reduced to taking an 18-year-old's painting off the wall". A black man hangs from a crucifix, the scales of justice in his hands.

But St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson has defended Mr. Clay against accusations of being anti-police and said over the weekend that "police officers are not art critics".

Several members of the media quizzed Hunter about other offensive pieces of art on capitol grounds like the statue of Jefferson Davis in Statuary Hall.

"He had no right to take that picture down", Clay said. Removing the painting amounts to stifling another person's perspective, not just a gratuitous insult against police.

Clay's district, which has seen protests and rioting since the 2014 death of Michael Gray in police custody, also has one of the highest levels of gun violence in the country.

"But even if it, did you have to respect that artist's view, and that is all I am saying about David Pulphus".


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