January 06, 2017
A Republican congressman took matters into his own hands Friday and personally removed a painting depicting police officers as pigs that a colleague had allowed to be displayed at the U.S. Capitol complex.
“I was angry,” Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., told FoxNews.com. “I’ve seen the press [reporting] on this for about a week or so. … I’m in the Marine Corps. If you want it done, just call us.”
Hunter said he walked over to the artwork Friday morning with a few colleagues and unscrewed it. He then delivered it to the office of Rep. Lacy Clay, D-Mo., the congressman whose office had allowed the piece to be displayed. The painting, hanging since June, was done by a high school student who had won Clay’s annual Congressional Art competition.
The piece drew outrage, however, from law enforcement groups and fellow lawmakers.
As for whether the painting will stay down, Hunter said: “Lacy can put it back up, I guess, if he wants to … but I’m allowed to take it down.”
Clay’s office has not yet responded to a request for comment.
More than 27,000 law enforcement professionals had been protesting the display of what they called a “reprehensible, repugnant and repulsive” painting in the hallway of the Capitol.
After being told the piece was removed, Ron Hernandez, president of the Association for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs, said in a statement Friday they were “very pleased.”
He said: “At a time of our country facing rising crime and a shortage of those willing to work the streets as police officers and deputy sheriffs, we need to make it clear that depictions of law enforcement officers as pigs in our Nation’s Capital is not acceptable.”
The acrylic painting, which took first place in a congressional student art competition in St. Louis, depicts a police officer as a pig in uniform aiming a gun at African-American protesters. Above the scene, two birds — one black, one white — fight, and beside them, an African-American protester holding a scale of justice is crucified.
The art piece, “Untitled,” was created by then-Cardinal Ritter Prep senior David Pulphus, and was on display in the hallway between the Capitol and adjacent House office buildings. Clay’s office has said the teen who made the painting was speaking from his own life experience, considering where he lived and its location close to Ferguson, Mo.
Hunter said he’s friends with Clay, calling him a “great guy.”
He added, “But you’ve got to respect our men in uniform and what they do.”
The Independent Journal Review had first reported on the art.
House leaders already were coming under pressure to take the painting down before Friday.
In an earlier statement calling on House Speaker Paul Ryan to remove it, the Los Angeles Police Protective League, the Sergeants Benevolent Association of New York, and the San Francisco, Oakland and San Jose Police Officers Associations said: “This false narrative portrays law enforcement professionals as posing a danger to the very communities we serve. That is untrue and this ‘art’ reinforces this false narrative and is disrespectful on so many levels.”