Rep. William Lacy Clay (D-Mo.). (AP)
(CNSNews.com) – At a press conference in the Cannon Office Building on Capitol Hill on Tuesday, Rep. William Lacy Clay (D-Mo.) and members of the Congressional Black Caucus said they were standing up for a young artist’s constitutional rights by reinstalling a painting that depicts police officers as pigs and other animals, saying that cops who have killed teenagers have displayed “animalistic behavior.”
CNSNews.com asked Rep. Clay, “Do you think police officers should be depicted as pigs – what message does that send?”
“I just told you what informed this young man and why he drew those characters in this painting,” Clay responded. “I just told you what his life experiences were … a 12-year-old gets killed by a police officer – that’s animalistic behavior.”
Last spring, “Untitled #1” by then-high school senior David Pulphus was selected as the winner of Clay’s 16th annual Congressional Art Competition, according to a report by The Mercury News.
The painting was taken down last week by Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) because he said it violates rules for the annual House Art Competition.
The guidelines state, “Artwork must adhere to the policy of the House Office Building Commission. In accordance with this policy, exhibits depicting subjects of contemporary political controversy or a sensationalistic or gruesome nature are not allowed.”
Duncan told reporters he was seeking to have the painting removed again by the Architect of the House, the office in charge of the exhibit.
"Untitled #1" by David Pulphus. (AP)
Clay said at the press conference that the painting reflected the young artist’s “impression of law enforcement,” and repeated that some police have displayed “animalistic” behavior numerous times in his remarks to the media.
“I am not anti-police,” Clay said. “I have numerous family members who are part of law enforcement … the artist, has numerous family who are part of law enforcement.”
“What I say is that most police officers are good eggs,” Clay said. “But when you think about how this young man formed – his impression of law enforcement.”
“Over the last five years – he’s 18 -- at the age of 13 he witnessed Trey Von Martin’s death at the hands of someone who was supposed to be an authority – George Zimmerman – whose behavior and actions were animalistic,” Clay said. “Fast forward two more years to Michael Brown in Ferguson – unarmed teenager killed by Darren Wilson.”
“Mr. Wilson’s behavior was animalistic,” Clay said. “He shot that kid numerous times.”
“And then you go and see video of Eric Garner in New York being choked by a police officer and killed on video,” Clay said. “That’s animalistic.”
“That’s his impression of this,” Clay said. “You see Tamir Rice being shot in seconds by a person in blue – animalistic behavior.”
“So that’s what I say about police officers,” Clay said. “They do this to teenagers …to young kids.”
“That’s how he formed his opinion about certain officers because of the animalistic behavior toward unarmed teenagers,” Clay said.
According to The Mercury News, the San Jose, Oakland, and San Francisco police unions are calling on House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) to remove the painting. According to The Hill, Ryan spokeswoman AshLee Strong said the Speaker was “looking into” removing the painting.