Painting in Capitol complex depicts police as pigs

Cristina Marcos

A painting that depicts two policemen as feral pigs is drawing controversy.

Part of a student art competition involving House offices, the painting shows a confrontation between a protester, depicted as a black panther gripping a “Stop Killing” sign, and two police officers drawing their guns.

Both officers resemble feral pigs.

The painting is hanging in a tunnel connecting the Capitol with the Cannon and Longworth House office buildings, and is just a few dozen feet away from a Capitol Police screening checkpoint. It’s one of more than 400 paintings included in the competition that line the hallway. 

Several law enforcement organizations urged Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) this week to take down what they described as “reprehensible and repugnant ‘art.’ ” 

“Speaker Ryan, please stand up for those of us in law enforcement and immediately remove this stain from our beloved Capitol and send a message that you support the men and women of law enforcement over those that perpetrate lies about our profession,” they wrote in a letter.

Ryan, asked about the painting at a press conference on Thursday, said he hadn’t seen the painting or “heard about it.”

The painting was displayed after Rep. Lacy Clay’s (D-Mo.) office awarded the artist, David Pulphus, a first place certificate in the competition.

The artwork depicts a city street filled with black protesters holding signs with the words “History” and “Racism Kills.” The skyline shows a young black man behind bars, while the foreground shows another wearing a graduation cap and splayed on a crucifix.

Clay, a Congressional Black Caucus member, described the painting last year as “the most creative expression that I’ve witnessed over the last 16 years.”

His district includes Ferguson, where riots broke out in 2014 after a white police officer shot and killed Michael Brown, an 18-year-old black man. 

“The painting portrays 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,” Clay’s office said in a press release unveiling the winners of the congressional art competition.

Tags Lacy Clay Paul Ryan

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