St. Louis painting at U.S. Capitol put back up after taken down for third time

The controversial painting made its way back to its original home.

A controversial painting by a local artist continues to draw emotion on Capitol Hill.

A California lawmaker first removed the piece of artwork, claiming it disrespected law enforcement. After it was re-displayed this morning, it was taken down and re-hung again.

Congressman Lacy Clay re-hung the painting for a second time this morning.

He says he neither agrees or disagrees with the actual work of art but feels people should dig deeper and understand that this is about our constitutional rights.

The artist is a Cardinal Ritter graduate.

"He has a right to convey that as part of art," said Democratic Congressman Lacy Clay.

The painting  shows the chaotic aftermath of the police shooting of Michael Brown. The artist, 18-year-old St. Louis native David Pulphus, depicts two police officers as animals.

"The Supreme court has said, art is an expression of speech so therefore I am protecting Mr. Pulphus' right," Clay said.

Congressman Lacy Clay originally unveiled the painting on capitol hill back in June. Friday, California Representative, Duncan Hunter took it down, calling it offensive.

"It portrays police officers as pigs and it doesn't belong in the U.S. Capitol, it's that simple," said Hunter.

Tuesday Clay Re-hung the painting but said he will file a criminal complaint for Hunter's actions.

"The definition in the D.C. code is that you take something that's not yours, it's called theft," said Clay.

He said Pulphus' painting conveys the animalistic behavior of some officers. He's hopeful this will open a conversation on Capitol hill.

"It's my job, it's our job of every officer in the department to make sure that that young man has an avenue to have his voice heard," St. Louis Metropolitan Police Chief, Sam Dotson said.

Here at home, Tuesday afternoon, Dotson weighed in on the painting

"It's not pro-police. It's not 'Black Lives Matter.' It's about the constitution and first amendment," Dotson said. "There's a right for that young man to create that art and there's a right for that art to be displayed"

Some said Clay is contradicting himself in standing for freedom of speech when it comes to this painting. That's because he recently called for the removal of the Confederate statue that stood in Forest Park, saying it was offensive.

Clay responded, saying Mayor Slay lead those efforts. He simply supported the statue's removal.


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