WASHINGTON DC – A controversial painting depicting police as animals during the unrest in Ferguson is hanging in a tunnel leading to the U.S. Capitol. The piece won Missouri Representative Lacy Clay’s annual Congressional Art competition in May. Many are asking for the painting to come down; saying it is disrespectful to police. Clay says he is not taking the piece down. He tweets, “The U.S. Capitol is a symbol of freedom, not censorship. The young artist chose his own subject and the painting will not be removed.”
“The painting 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,” Clay said in a news release last May.
The St. Louis American reports that the painting is by high school senior David Pulphus. Members of Congress put out a call for students to compete in the contest every year. The winners of the “An Artistic Discovery” competition have their work displayed in the tunnels that connect the House Office Buildings to the U.S. Capitol. Over 200 members of Congress and over 50,000 high schools students have taken part in the program.
This painting is now sparking outrage from police departments across the country. DC police expressed outrage at the image, calling it “offensive and disgusting.” St. Louis County’s Police Association asks, “Is this the way an elected official should be representing his Congressional District’s Law Enforcement?”
“I had no role in selecting the winner of this student art competition and I would never attempt to approve or disapprove artistic expression
Members of Congress support student art competitions in our districts, we do not select the young artists and we do not judge the artwork.”
The St. Louis County Police Association, MO FOP Lodge 111, posted this message to their Facebook page on Friday.
“Below you will see two images:
One is of a piece of “art” that was selected by Rep. Lacy Clay to be displayed on the grounds of the US Capitol.
You will see the “art” which Rep. Clay described as, “a colorful landscape of symbolic characters…” depicting a perverted distortion of an actual event.
The next image is a real photograph of another actual event. You will notice it shows numerous Police Officers from our region, most of whom served during the civil unrest in Ferguson, paying their respects to a fellow Police Officer who was murdered in the line of duty.
Rep. Clay’s vision of our Police Officers, as animals, appears to conflict with the reality that we are in fact human beings… people, not animals. People who are willing to die for the citizens we swore we would protect and serve.
Is this the way an elected official should be representing his Congressional District’s Law Enforcement?
Feel free to comment on the post, or better yet, let Rep. Clay’s office know what you think.
His numbers are:
(314) 367-1970 (St. Louis Office)
(202) 367-1970 (D.C. Office)”