Rep. Clay filing lawsuit to restore cops as pigs painting in the Capitol

Remember that painting of protesters in St. Louis who have cops, depicted as pigs, pointing guns at them? The disagreement over the painting seemed to come to an end last month when the Architect of the Capitol concluded it violated rules for art hanging in the U.S. Capitol. Today the Hill reports that Rep. Lacy Clay will file a federal lawsuit against the Architect of the Capitol seeking to have it restored:

Clay will argue that the painting’s removal, which followed outcry from House Republicans and police advocacy groups, violated his constituent’s First Amendment rights to free expression.

The painting by student David Pulphus showed a confrontation between black protesters and police officers with guns drawn, depicted as feral pigs.

The painting was hanging in a hallway near the U.S. Capitol until early January when GOP Rep. Duncan Hunter took it down and returned it to Rep. Clay’s office. Rep. Clay returned it to the wall several times, even as police organizations around the country wrote letters protesting the painting. Eventually the Architect of the Capitol stepped in, noting that the rules for artwork in the area preclude any depiction of current events.

Earlier this month, minority leader Nancy Pelosi appealed the decision on the painting. The Hill reported on Feb. 3:

Shortly after it was removed in mid-January, Pelosi called for a meeting of the House Office Building Commission to appeal the decision. But her appeal fell short on Friday, given that House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) outnumber her on the panel…

Pelosi explained the final outcome in a Friday letter to Clay, whose constituent, David Pulphus, created the painting.

She said her case before the commission included the fact that no artwork has been removed since the competition began in 1982.

Rep. Clay represents the district that includes Ferguson, MO, the scene of the police shooting of Michael Brown. This artwork by a high school student won an annual art competition set up by Rep. Clay. Clay himself did not have any role in judging the competition.

Jazz Shaw Jul 03, 2022 10:01 AM ET