Rep. William Lacy Clay (D-MO) said Monday that he will file a federal lawsuit on Tuesday against the architect of the Capitol for removing a painting by former St. Louis student David Pulphus that depicts police officers as animals.
“Seven months after being displayed as part of a public exhibit, a deluge of alternative right media, aided by the unauthorized actions of certain reactionary members of Congress, deprived Mr. Pulphus of his constitutionally guaranteed 1st Amendment Right of Free Expression,” Clay’s office said in a statement to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
Clay’s office said he “is seeking an appropriate remedy through this federal litigation and he is proud to defend both the fundamental rights of his constituent and the 1st Amendment,” according to the Post-Dispatch.
Pulphus’ “Untitled #1” won Clay’s Congressional Art Competition. The piece shows a protest against police violence and depicts police officers, as well as one protester, as animals.
In January, Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) removed the painting from a wall in the U.S. Capitol, saying it made him “angry.”
Clay attempted to return the painting to its display permanently. However, after Republicans argued that the painting did not meet the competition’s standards, which bars works of art that depict “subjects of contemporary political controversy or a sensationalistic or gruesome nature,” the architect of the Capitol ordered the painting removed.