After outraged law enforcement officers in Los Angeles and other big cities demanded an award-winning high school student’s painting depicting cops as pigs be removed from the U.S. Capitol in Washington D.C., an “angry” ex-Marine congressman didn’t wait for any legal or political niceties.
Rep. Duncan Hunter, a Republican who represents parts of San Diego and Riverside counties, just went over to the painting and used his own two hands to tear it off a wall.
The painting from a district competition sponsored by Rep. Lacy Clay, a Democratic Congressman from the St. Louis area, had been displayed near a Capitol Police screening checkpoint.
Hunter, a Marine veteran and early supporter of President-elect Donald Trump, returned the painting to Clay’s office.
“I was angry. I’ve seen the press on this for about a week or so,” Hunter told a TV news network.
Clay represents the town of Ferguson, MO, where a white police officer shot an unarmed black teenager in 2014, causing nationwide protests.
The painting had hung for months without controversy until police organizations began urging House Speaker Paul Ryan to take it down.
There was little reaction from Clay, nor was there speculation about any possible legal actions that could be taken against Hunter for removing the painting Friday.
The Los Angeles police and sheriff’s unions joined late last week at a news conference to call for removal of the controversial painting hanging in the U.S. Capitol that depicts two law enforcement officers as warthogs, usually referred to as wild pigs, in uniform aiming guns at protesters.
“This painting has no place hanging on the walls of the U.S. Capitol, it is offensive to those of us in law enforcement and is utterly disrespectful to the men and women who have lost their lives in the line of duty serving their respective duties,” said Sgt. Jerretta Sandoz, vice president of the Los Angeles Police Protective League.
The acrylic painting, by then-high school senior David Pulphus, was a winner in the House of Representatives’ “Artistic Discovery” art contest for high school students. Inspired by protesters’ clashes with the Ferguson Police Department in 2014, the painting is called “Untitled #1.”
Clay, D-Missouri, chose the piece as the winner from his district, saying in a May statement that it “portrays a colorful landscape of symbolic characters representing social injustice, the tragic events in Ferguson and the lingering elements of inequality in modern American society.”
The painting hung in the Capitol building in Washington for months without controversy. But on Dec. 30, the Daily Caller reported that The Fraternal Order of Police District of Columbia Lodge #1 objected to the painting.
This pasgt week, the LAPPL, the Sergeants Benevolent Association of New York and the San Francisco, Oakland and San Jose Police Officers Associations co-signed a letter to Speaker of the House Paul Ryan asking him to take the painting down.
“Our law enforcement organizations, representing over 27,000 law enforcement professionals, strongly urge you to exercise the extraordinary power you possess as Speaker of the House of Representatives to immediately remove the reprehensible and repugnant `art’ on display in our nation’s Capitol that depicts police officers as pigs intent on gunning down innocent people,” the Jan. 3 letter states.
The Association for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs also called for the painting’s removal in a blog post, calling it “repulsive.”
Clay has defended the painting. He told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, “Yes, some people find it offensive. I don’t find it offensive. I find it to be an expression of what one of my constituents is feeling about what he has experienced.”
— Staff and wire reports