LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Representatives from Los Angeles’ two largest law enforcement unions are asking House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan to remove a painting from the U.S. Capitol that depicts police officers as pigs.
The painting, “Untitled #1,” by David Pulphus, was inspired by the chaotic aftermath of the fatal shooting by an officer of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., CBS New York reports. The piece won a student art competition hosted last year by the office of Representative Lacy Clay of Missouri.
The painting has been at the center of a controversy since an article published last week by the Independent Journal Review shed light on its placement in the Capitol building. A handful of police unions, including the Los Angeles Police Protective League, sent a letter to Ryan this week condemning the public display of the artwork.
“Our law enforcement organizations, representing over 27,000 law enforcement professionals, strongly urge you to exercise the extraordinary power you possess as Speaker of the House of Representatives to immediately remove the reprehensible and repugnant ‘art’ on display in our nation’s Capitol that depicts police officers as Pigs intent on gunning down innocent people,” the letter said.
“This latest indignation, sponsored by an elected official intent on pandering to professional protesters, unfortunately adds credence to a demonstrably false narrative about law enforcement that undermines the safety of law enforcement officers and those we protect. This false narrative portrays law enforcement professionals as posing a danger to the very communities we serve. That is untrue and this “art” reinforces this false narrative and is disrespectful on so many levels,” the letter continued.
The Association for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs joined the call for the painting to be removed on Thursday.
“The Association for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs is calling on House Speaker Paul Ryan to remove this piece of hate from the public space,” the union said. “Hatred of law enforcement should not be displayed in the halls of the United States House of Representatives.”
Rep. Clay has defended displaying the artwork.
“Members of Congress support student art competitions in our districts but we do not select the young artists and we do not judge the artwork,” Clay’s office said in a statement. “I had no role in selecting the winner of this student art competition and I would never attempt to approve or disapprove of artistic expression. The U.S. Capitol is a symbol of freedom, not censorship. The young artist chose his own subject and the painting will not be removed.”