December 31, 2016
A Missouri congressman has sparked outrage after a painting he approved depicting police officers as animals was placed on display in the U.S. Capitol building.
The painting, by high school senior David Pulphus, shows the unrest in Ferguson, Mo. after the 2014 death of Michael Brown. The piece won Rep. Lacy Clay, D-Mo.’s annual Congressional Art competition in May, and so was selected to be displayed at the Capitol complex.
The piece depicts two police officers, whose heads are replaced by animal heads – one of which appears to be a pig — aiming guns at protesters who are carrying signs saying “History” and “Racism Kills.” In the background is a crucified black man in a graduation cap holding the scales of justice.
Clay praised the piece in a press release in May, saying it “portrays a colorful landscape of symbolic characters representing social injustice, the tragic events in Ferguson, Missouri and the lingering elements of inequality in modern American society.”
The Independent Journal Review, which first reported the development, reports that the controversial piece now hangs in a tunnel between the U.S. Capitol building and the Longworth House Office Building.
DC police expressed outrage at the image, calling it “offensive and disgusting.”
“During a time in our society when tensions are so high that someone can be offended by a single word, this painting does nothing but attack law enforcement to its core,” Andy Maybo, president of The Fraternal Order of Police District of Columbia Lodge #1 , told The Daily Caller. “The fact that a member of Congress would advocate and praise such a painting is reprehensible.”
Congressional Republicans also expressed dismay at the decision to display the painting in the Capitol.
“It is disheartening to see this depiction of law enforcement hanging in the hallway of our nation’s Capitol where officers work everyday to protect our safety and freedoms,” Rep. Dave Reichert, R-Wash., told The Independent Journal Review. “Unfortunately, many people of influence have taken part in promoting offensive and inaccurate caricatures of the very people who do the most to protect our families.”
Calls to the Clay’s offices were not immediately returned.