California congressman Duncan D. Hunter (R-Calif.) removed a Missouri student’s painting from the walls of the U.S. Capitol last Friday, just a few days after groups representing law enforcement officers called for its removal due to its perceived negative portrayal of police. The painting was by David Pulphus, a high school graduate from North St. Louis. The painting depicts his interpretation of the 2014 protests in Ferguson, Mo.
It was chosen to hang in a tunnel between the U.S. Capitol and the Cannon House Office Building — alongside hundreds of other student works of art — as a part of the yearly Congressional Art Competition. A panel of artists from Missouri’s 1st Congressional District chose it from among the entries.
Several law enforcement groups called the painting “reprehensible and repugnant” and representative of growing anti-police sentiment. More attention was drawn to the painting after a Fox News personality called for its removal Friday. A letter protesting the painting was signed and sent Tuesday to House Speaker Paul Ryan by the presidents of police unions in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Jose and Oakland, Calif.
Rep. Hunter did not consult with Speaker Ryan or the Capitol authorities who run the competition before removing the painting He then took it to the office of Rep. William Lacy Clay (D-Mo.), who represents the 1st District.
“He unscrewed it himself and brought it back to Lacy Clay’s office,” said Joe Kasper, Hunter’s chief of staff. “He returned it. Clay can put it back up if he wants to.”