In a tunnel connecting the Capitol building and two House office buildings in Washington D.C., there lies a portrait depicting police officers as savage animals violently confronting black protesters.
The controversial painting has been in the tunnel since June, but Republican Rep. Duncan Hunter of California personally took down the picture last Friday, believing it to be a negative representation of America’s police force.
On Monday, Democratic Rep. William Lacy Clay of Missouri filed a complaint with the Capitol Police against Hunter, after Rep. Hunter returned the painting to Clay’s office. As a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, Clay plans to hold an event on Tuesday morning with Black Caucus associates to put the painting back on the wall.
“How dare he!” an emotionally charged Clay told reporters regarding Hunter’s actions. “He was way out of bounds. He broke the law. It’s called theft. And I don’t think anyone up here is qualified to be an art critic.”
Clay represents the town of Ferguson, Mo., where a white police officer shot an unarmed teenager in 2014, and staunchly defends the artwork’s message.
However, law enforcement officials for weeks have requested that House Speaker Paul Ryan order for the painting’s removal. Like Hunter, they find it offensive and counterproductive to police relations.
The portrait was painted by student David Pulphus who won a first place award in an annual high school art competition for the work. The painting depicts black protesters holding signs labeled “History” and “Racism Kills.” At the center of the painting is a confrontation between a protester, depicted as a black panther, and two police officers depicted as feral pigs.
The painting can be viewed below:
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