A painting that depicts members of the Ferguson, Missouri Police Department as “pigs in uniform” will be removed from Capitol Hill, according to Rep. Dave Reichert (R-Wash). The agency responsible for maintaining the Capitol complex has determined it violated rules for the student arts competition that led to the painting being hung in the first place. Supporters of the painting argue that removing the painting based solely on the content of the image is a violation of the student’s freedom of speech.
The painting, created by high school student David Pulphus, shows a member of the Ferguson Police department, in the form of a wild boar, pointing a firearm at a protester, who is represented by a wolf. Reichert claims that the painting violated rules for the competition which state that works depicting subjects of contemporary political controversy or of a sensationalistic or gruesome nature are not allowed. After being made aware of this violation, the architect of the Capitol has determined that the painting does in fact violate the rules of the competition and will be removed.
Reichert issued a written statement on the painting, calling it a “slap in the face to the countless men and women who put their lives on the line everyday on behalf of our safety and freedom.”
The painting hung in the hallways of Capitol Hill for over six months before stirring controversy. Talks of removing the painting began recently, devolving into a tit-for-tat argument between Republicans and Democrats. Republican representatives would remove the painting without permission, only for Democratic representatives to return it once again to the walls of the building.
Rep. William Lacy Clay (D-MO) supports Pulphus, the creator of the painting, and fought for the piece of art to remain up. One day before it was announced that the painting would be removed, Rep. Clay accused Rep. Reichert and Paul Ryan of attempting to suppress free speech and freedom of expression “with their own brand of retroactive, vigilante censorship against my constituent.”