Meadville, PA – Administrators at a private college in Pennsylvania have said that a student’s painting emblazoned with the words “KILL COPS” was not an endorsement for violence against police.
Allegheny College officials claimed the painting was taken out of context.
The vibrantly-colored painting was prominently displayed in a hallway at Allegheny College, the Meadville City Fraternal Order of Police said in a Facebook post.
“It is known that some employees of Allegheny asked administrators for the picture to be removed because of the Kill Cops portion,” the FOP explained. “Their request was ignored even with a warning that the depiction could be inflammatory.”
The FOP also posted two photos of the painting, so that viewers could “judge the ‘context’ of this work” for themselves, the post read.
The purpose of the painting was to depict urban street art and to call for an end to violence, the anonymous 20-year-old student who created the painting told WJET.
"I believe that my piece has been taken completely out of context, specifically the one that contains the words 'kill cops,'” he said. “They were stripped away of the totality of the rest of the competition [and] the meaning behind it.”
The student did not explain how the painting could be interpreted differently.
"I hope that there is no ill will between Allegheny, Meadville or between cops and anyone,” he told WJET.
College administrators backed the student artist in a Facebook post on Sunday, and blamed social media for destroying the supposedly peaceful intent of the painting.
"The artist, the Art Department, and Allegheny College do not condone violence toward police or any group of people,” Allegheny College wrote in the post. “This artwork when viewed fully documents an urban street scene in which many controversial slogans are visible. The intent from the artist is to call for an end to mindless violence, just the opposite from the context being circulated on social media.”
“But, because of this unintended consequence, the artist has agreed to remove the piece from public display,” the post continued. “To further this conversation, the Art Department and the artist will offer a panel discussion to the campus community later in the semester.”
The painting is no longer on display at the school, the FOP confirmed in a Facebook post.
The FOP acknowledged that artwork is “open for individual interpretation,” but noted that “freedom of expression does come with consequences.”
“Disappointing that this was displayed, more disappointing that it took so much outcry for it to actually be removed,” the police union continued. “To everyone that supports law enforcement, thank you so much for your continued support.”