“This is the painting outraged law enforcement officials want removed from the Capitol.  An Acrylic painting by David Pulphus when he was a student at Cardinal Ritter College Prep high school is stirring up controversy after its display in the U.S. Capitol in Washington.  The painting, "Untitled #1," in May had won an annual contest sponsored by U.S. Re. William "Lacy" Clay, D-St. Louis. It is a symbolic representation of injustice, inequality, and the unrest in Ferguson, and, among other things, depicts police officers as animals. Photo courtesy Office of Lacy Clay
An acrylic painting by David Pulphus, completed when he was a student at Cardinal Ritter College Prep High School, is stirring up controversy after its display in the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. The painting, titled “Untitled #1,” in May had won an annual contest sponsored by U.S. Rep. William “Lacy” Clay, D-St. Louis. Photo courtesy Office of Lacy Clay

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.

The painting — which depicts police as warthogs aiming guns at a group of protesters — has been an ongoing media spectacle for days, during which time it’s been taken down by Republican representatives Duncan Hunter of California and Doug Lamborn of Colorado, only to be re-hung by Rep. Lacy Clay, D-Missouri.

“By re-hanging this painting in our nation’s capitol, Rep. Clay is not only agreeing with it, but he’s celebrating it,” the LAPPL said in a statement co-signed by the Sergeants Benevolent Association of New York and the San Francisco, Oakland and San Jose Police Officers Associations. “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.”

The 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 chose the piece as the winner from his district and it had been hanging without controversy for months until recently, when police unions started to voice opposition.

The LAPPL and four other police unions last week wrote a letter to House Speaker Paul Ryan asking him to take the painting down. At that time, the painting had not been removed.

Since then, both Lamborn and Hunter — who represents parts of San Diego County — have removed the painting, only to have it hung back up by Clay, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The paper reported the painting might have even been removed and re-hung a third time Tuesday.

“This is really not about a student art competition anymore,” Clay said, according to the Post-Dispatch. “It’s about defending the Constitution.”

–City News Service

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