St. Paul, MN – A taxpayer-funded painting depicts police officers as Nazis backed up by Ku Klux Klan members and also shows President Donald Trump groping a woman.
The painting is the work of Jim Denomie, a Native American artist, and depicts the 2016 protests over an oil pipeline in North Dakota, according to KMSP.
The painting shows Native American protesters during the Standing Rocks protest on one side of a river with peaceful signs.
On the other side are police with military vehicles, including one with a Nazi swastika on it, as well as attack dogs and a water cannon.
Behind the police are members of the Ku Klux Klan. Next to the officers is a caricature of President Trump groping a woman, according to KMSP.
Denomie received a $10,000 grant in 2018 from the Minnesota State Arts Board to pay for the work. The painting is on display until April 6 at Bockley Gallery in Minneapolis. The painting was also displayed at Mankato State Univeristy.
Minnesota Republican State Representative Josh Heintzeman called the painting “repulsive.” He said the Minnesota State Arts Board should not fund that type of art.
“People create all kinds of things all the time that are highly controversial, but when it comes to taxpayer money, that’s a different question,” Heintzeman said, according to KMSP. “The taxpayer, should they be on the hook for this? … There’s lots of opportunities for these dollars to be used. We’re turning away lots of projects,” he said. “I’m guessing there was probably a pretty good direction we could’ve gone with this particular $10,000 appropriation.”
The $10,000 grant came from the National Endowment for the Arts ($5,625) and $4,375 from the state’s general fund, according to Sue Gens, executive director of the Minnesota State Arts Board.
Denomie said in an email to KMSP that he saw the Standing Rocks protest in the same light as the Wounded Knee Massacre where hundreds of men, women, and children were slaughtered after having their guns taken from them.
“I used these symbols to bring to mind incidents when police have used racial profiling or deadly force against unarmed people of color. It felt to me that maybe some of this behavior was present during events at Standing Rock,” Denomie said, according to KMSP.