A Republican congressman on Friday morning took down a piece of art originally displayed by a Democratic colleague in the U.S. Capitol complex, saying he was “angry” after seeing reports about the painting’s depiction of police as pigs.
The painting by a local high school student, “Untitled #1,” was the winner of Rep. William Lacy Clay’s (D-MO) Congressional Art Competition. It depicts a protest against police violence in St. Louis, which Clay represents in Congress, and depicts police officers as animals arresting and pointing guns at the protestors. One protestor appears depicted as a wolf, as well.
The painting also shows a crucified black man wearing a graduation cap and holding the scales of justice. Another black person is shown looking out from behind prison bars in the background.
“I was angry,” Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) told FoxNews.com on Friday. “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 told the website that he and a few colleagues had taken down the painting Friday morning and delivered it to Clay’s office. The subject of the painting had came up in a GOP conference meeting on Friday, according to Politico, and Hunter removed it shortly afterwards.
“Lacy can put it back up, I guess, if he wants to … but I’m allowed to take it down,” Hunter told FoxNews.com.
Clay said in a statement emailed to TPM that the U.S. Capitol should be a symbol of “freedom, not censorship.”
“Members of Congress support student art competitions in our districts but we do not select the young artists and we do not judge the artwork,” he said.
“I had no role in selecting the winner of this student art competition and I would never attempt to approve or disapprove artistic expression,” the statement continued. “The U.S. Capitol is a symbol of freedom, not censorship.”
In a press release announcing the winners of the Congressional Art Competition in May of last year, Clay described the painting, by then-high school senior David Pulphus, as “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.”
Asked by Politico about blowback for his actions, Hunter said: “Blowback from what? Taking a down a painting that depicts policemen as pigs? No, I’m not.”