Outrage over 'cops as warthogs' painting continues as LA police union protests

Mathew BarnettJan 12, 2017

Seven months ago, I was pleased to welcome David Pulphus, a very talented 18-year old constituent of mine from St. Louis, to Capitol Hill, as we unveiled his painting, entitled "Untitled #1"; the 1st place victor in my annual Congressional Art Competition in Missouri's 1st congressional district.

Last week, Congressman Duncan Hunter, R-California, was the first to take the painting down, after Republicans complained about it and asked House GOP leadership to intervene.

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.

The painting, which won an art competition hosted by Clay previous year, also depicts some police as pigs.

However, after Clay and other lawmakers in the Congressional Black Caucus held an event on Tuesday to rehang the controversial painting, it was taken back down.

In a statement addressing why Lamborn removed the painting again on Tuesday, he said, "Just yesterday, we honored Law Enforcement Appreciation Day".

There is drama in the Capitol over a spat between the Congressional Black Caucus and House Republicans involving whether or not a painting should be on display, Politico reports.

After Clay restored the painting, Rep. Doug Lamborn, R-Colo., removed it again and took it to Clay's office. "That's what this is really about", Hunter said. The paper reported the painting might have even been removed and re-hung a third time Tuesday.

"His winning entry is a provocative, symbolic representation of the great anger, pain, frustration, and deep deficit in trust for local law enforcement that many young African-Americans feel in their heart", said Clay. "In accordance with this policy, exhibits depicting subjects of contemporary political controversy or a sensationalistic or gruesome nature are not allowed". "Clay agrees with this painting's depiction of police officers as pigs looking to gun down innocent people and he shouldn't cowardly hide behind the first amendment to justify re-hanging the picture". In the background, the St. Louis Gateway Arch appears, along with a black man peering out from behind prison bars.

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.

Pulphus' work was one of hundreds of winners in the annual Congressional Arts Competition.

Just one week into the 115th Congress and the House is already in the midst of a full-fledged battle - over constituent artwork in a Capitol Hill tunnel.

"Over the last five years - he's 18 - at the age of 13 he witnessed Trey Von Martin's death at the hands of someone who was supposed to be an authority - George Zimmerman - whose behavior and actions were animalistic", Clay said. Also, we hope for your sake you don't have Twitter, David Pulphus.

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