WASHINGTON (CN) – A Los Angeles sheriff’s association wants a Missouri lawmaker to remove a painting displayed at the U.S. Capitol that depicts police officers as animals.
The painting, hung in a tunnel in the Capitol complex by Democratic Congressman Wm. Lacy Clay, has sparked the ire of numerous police associations nationwide that find it offensive.
It shows a police officer with horns protruding from his face pointing a gun at a black man portrayed as a wolf. The man is holding a sign that says ‘Stop Kill.”
The artist, David Pulphus, of Cardinal Ritter Prep High School, won the 32nd annual congressional art competition for St. Louis students, which Clay has conducted for 16 years.
A May 6 press release from Clay’s office said, “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.”
The Association for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs, however, disagrees. In a Jan. 3 blog post, association board members described the painting as “repulsive” and a “piece of hate,” and said it portrayed the police officers as “pigs.”
Clay has refused to remove the painting, despite numerous calls from police associations and others to do so.
“How can a member of Congress jump to the twisted conclusion that it is okay to hang a painting that adds to the divide in our country and attacks law enforcement,” the Los Angeles association blog post states.
“Public safety requires a strong two-way partnership. At a time of our country facing rising crime and a shortage of those willing to work the streets as police officers and deputy sheriffs, we need to make it clear that depictions of law enforcement officers as pigs in our nation’s Capitol are not acceptable,” it said.
But Clay said through a spokesperson that members of Congress do not select the artists in the competition or judge their artwork, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported Jan. 1.
“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 said.
“The U.S. Capitol is a symbol of freedom, not censorship. The young artist chose his own subject and the painting will not be removed,” the statement continued.