Yet Another Congressman Removes Controversial Painting From Capitol Walls

Last week California Republican Rep. Duncan Hunter took matters into his own hands, removing the painting and taking it back to Clay's office.

The painting is by David Pulphus, a recent high school graduate who lives in the district of Democratic U.S. Rep. William Lacy Clay, which includes Ferguson, Mo.

"It's offensive. It portrays police officers as pigs and it doesn't belong in the US Capitol, it's that simple", said Hunter. Shortly after Clay put it back up Tuesday morning, another GOP lawmaker took it down again - and then Clay put it back up again, his spokesman said.

Clay said he has since put the painting back up for the third time.

For six months, Untitled #1 hung in a hallway of the Capitol among hundreds of other winning artworks from the high school Congressional Arts Competition without much fuss.

Hunter, who says he remains friends with Clay, will not personally pull the painting down again, Kasper said.

And with Clay having hung it up for the third time this afternoon, there is now a gaggle of reporters posted up and ready to capture the moment when another GOPer comes and takes down the painting.

Those who have expressed any criticism of the painting suggested it was because it represented police as "pigs" and therefore should not be in the Capitol. But what happened in Ferguson has been part of an ongoing national debate about race relations with law enforcement and the criminal justice system. Reichert says it violates the competition's rules, which state that "exhibits depicting subjects of contemporary political controversy or a sensationalistic or gruesome nature are not allowed". The artwork depicts some police officers as pigs.

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

The Los Angeles Police Protective League and four other police unions are once again calling for the removal of a controversial painting that has twice been removed and re-installed on a wall in the U.S. Capitol Building.

Clay said Pulphus' painting offers a glimpse into how a young man views the world. In the background, black human figures can be seen in various positions, including holding megaphones, placed behind bars, seemingly crucified and holding the scales of justice.

House Speaker Paul Ryan's office would not to make a definitive statement on the matter today, but said the matter was going to be "addressed". There are works of art around the Capitol that others find offensive, he said.

The Missouri congressman said it is "pathetic" that some Republicans and "alt-right media types" constantly refer to themselves as constitutional conservatives, but don't think the same document protects the free-speech rights of his constituent. Clay also argued that while the street scene was a reflection of modern tensions, there was a deeper context: "The African-American community has had a painful, tortured history with law enforcement in this country".

  • Annette Adams