Washington, D.C. - House Republicans are continuing the process to remove the controversial "Police As Pigs" painting hanging in a Capitol hallway.
According to the Washington Times, House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, said on Thursday, that the painting was "disgusting" and that he is confident it will come down soon. He also said that the painting "was not befitting the Capitol" and that it appears to violate the rules of the competition, which bar “exhibits depicting subjects of contemporary political controversy or a sensationalistic and gruesome nature.”
The painting has been the topic of much debate recently, and a tug-of-war between House Republicans and Rep. Lacy Clay, D-Missouri, who initially had the painting hung after it was chosen as one of the winners of a student art competition. There were a total of 400 winners in the competition. Things came to a head last week and continued this week, with different Republican Representatives taking the painting down at different times and returning it to Rep. Clay's office. Rep. Clay actually had a ceremony for the first re-hanging, and he re-hung the painting every tim it was taken down.
Rep. Clay said that the painting was protected by the First Amendment. House Speaker Ryan agreed that the artist had a constitutional right to paint the painting but that there was no constitutional right to hang the painting in the Capitol. He said that there were rules that govern these competitions and that “This is not a free for all contest where anything can go in the Capitol.”
Rep. Dave Reichert, R-Washington, is leading the effort to have the painting removed. Rep. Reichert is a former Washington State Sheriff. The rules of the art competition require that the winners and their art be reviewed by the Chief Architect and a panel before being put on display but it is not known if that occurred. The Capitol Architect has not yet commented. In response, Rep. Clay and Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-MD, have sent a letter to House Speaker Ryan requesting that the painting stay.
Although Rep. Clay has said that he is only protecting the First Amendment right of the artist, his other comments indicate differently. He has also said that the painting is "a provocative, symbolic representation of the great anger and pain, frustration and deep deficit in trust for local law enforcement that many young African Americans feel in their heart. The pain also reflects generations of struggle, sacrifice, abuse of power and tenuous relationship between minorities and the system of justice.” This doesn't sound like First Amendment protection to me.
An unknown person hung an 'american thin blue line flag' over the top of the painting last night, according to Chad Pergram with Fox News. He posted a picture of the thin blue line flag that had been hung over the painting on his Twitter feed.
We continue to push for the paintings immediate removal. It is divisive and disrespectful towards law enforcement.
Do you think that the painting is a constitutional issue? Let us know in the comments below.