Dem rep to file lawsuit over controversial police painting

Dem rep to file lawsuit over controversial police painting
© Greg Nash
Rep. Lacy Clay (D-Mo.) will file a federal lawsuit on Tuesday against the Architect of the Capitol for removing a constituent's painting that depicted police officers as animals from the Capitol complex. 
 
Clay will argue that the painting's removal, which followed outcry from House Republicans and police advocacy groups, violated his constituent's First Amendment rights to free expression. 
 
The painting by student David Pulphus showed a confrontation between black protesters and police officers with guns drawn, depicted as feral pigs. 
 
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Clay's district includes the city of Ferguson, where a white police officer shot an unarmed black teenager in 2014. The shooting sparked waves of protests. 

 
Pulphus's painting had been put on display after it won a prize in an annual high school student art competition between House offices. It was hung in the Capitol complex last June, but conservative media outlets took notice in December.
 
That led several House Republicans to unilaterally remove the painting from its place in a tunnel connecting the Capitol and nearby House office buildings — Clay put it back in place three times in one day.
 
The Architect of the Capitol later determined the painting violated the House Office Building Commission rules that prohibit artwork of sensationalistic nature or that feature contemporary political subjects. 
 
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi tried unsuccessfully to appeal the decision. But she was outnumbered on the House Office Building Commission, which is controlled by the majority party. 
 
Clay announced after the painting was removed that he would hang it in his Capitol office instead. 
 
He'll be joined by pro bono legal counsel when he files the lawsuit at a courthouse in Washington, D.C., Tuesday morning.