Washington, DC - The anti-police painting in the U.S. Capitol that was re-hung Tuesday morning in a ceremony staged by Rep. Lacy Clay, D-MO, was taken down again Tuesday afternoon. Actually twice, in two separate incidents. Rep. Doug Lamborn, R-Colorado, Rep. Brian Babin, R-Texas, and Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-California followed the lead of Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-California, in removing the painting from the wall.
According to Fox News, Rep. Doug Lamborn, R-Colorado, took the painting down again Tuesday, and returned it to Rep. Lacy's office, stating that "it didn't belong in the Capitol."
In a statement, Rep. Lamborn said "Just yesterday, we honored Law Enforcement Appreciation Day. I could not, in good conscience, continue to walk by a painting that so flagrantly disrespected the brave police officers that protect us here in the Capitol and in our communities across the country. I decided to continue the protest started by my colleague Congressman Hunter and I hope that permanent action is taken to remove this brazen attack on the brave men and women who make up the thin blue line.," according to Politico.
Rep. Clay then rehung the painting. A short time later, Rep. Rohrabacher took action. The painting was taken down from the wall in a Capitol hallway later in the afternoon by Rep. Babin and Rep. Rohrabacher, who returned it to Rep. Clay's office. Rep. Clay then took the painting back and replaced it on the wall. He stated that he was an "expert at hanging artwork."
Rep. Rohrabacher responded and said that the painting was "an insult to all police." Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, Rep. Cedric Richmond, D-LA, said "We may just have to kick somebody's ass and stop them." Rep. Clay said that he would be seeking a meeting with House Speaker Paul Ryan to address the issue. It is unclear at this point whether House leaders or some other office will step in to try to resolve this divisive issue.
The painting had hung largely unnoticed for about seven months and is part of a student art competition on display along a Capitol Hill corridor. It is untitled and the artist is David Pulphus. When the subject of the painting became apparent, many groups and individuals expressed outrage and demanded that it be removed. Rep. Lacy refused to remove the painting.
On Friday afternoon, Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-California, took the painting down after stating its depiction of police angered him, and took it to Rep. Lacy's office. Rep. Lacy called the removal "blatant censorship" and had the painting rehung this morning along with other members of the Congressional Black Caucus.
Rep. Clay has asked Capitol Police to file charges against Rep. Hunter for theft but said he has not heard back from police. Although no formal statement has been issued, Capitol Police are not investigating further Rep. Lacy Clay's whining about Rep. Duncan Hunter.
What is even more interesting is Rep. Clay's comment that he is not "anti-police" but merely supporting the First Amendment rights of the artist. In a later statement, he said that "the artist’s world view has been shaped by the 'animalistic' behavior of police officers, particularly the recent, high-profile cases in which unarmed black males died in confrontations with police." Apparently he supports the artist's view in light of his actions and words.
House Republicans had a closed-door meeting to discuss proper channels to have the painting permanently removed, including investigating whether the painting violated the rules of the competition. Tuesday morning, before the painting was rehung, Rep. Hunter said “It doesn’t belong in the U.S. Capitol. It’s that simple. It violates the rules of the art competition. You cannot have offensive things in the competition and this does.” He said that the rules do not allow paintings with "sensationalistic" subjects or those that depict "contemporary political controversy."
His chief of staff, Joe Kasper said that the Capitol was not an Art Museum and that "It's not the right place to have anything that calls attention to police officers as swine", according to The San Diego Union-Tribune. He also said that Rep. Clay's attempts to have Rep. Hunter arrested was "a punk move."
Rep. Gary Loudermilk, R-Georgia, weighed in on the controversy and said today that he wants Congressional officials to replace the painting with a poster of all of the names of police officers who have been shot and killed. The latest statement from Rep. Hunter: “The Capitol Police aren’t going to arrest me for taking down a picture that portrays them as pigs.” And that he plans to ask the Architect of the Capitol to have the painting removed.
We thank Rep. Hunter, Rep. Lamborn, Rep. Babin, Rep. Rohrabacher, and Rep. Loudermilk for their support of law enforcement officers. We have previously stated that the painting is offensive and should be removed immediately. 140 of our police officers paid the ultimate sacrifice in 2016. Two more died on Monday. It is insulting to them and their legacy, and to their families. Many others in addition to police officers are outraged.
It is also time that Rep. Clay stops hiding behind the 1st Amendment and is honest about why he wants the painting to remain. If you agree that the painting should be taken down, please contact your Congressman and/or House Speaker Paul Ryan.
How do you think this painting war will end? Let us know on our Facebook page or in the comments below.