Congressman Duncan Hunter and Lacy Clay
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“I’m in the Marine Corps. If you want it done, just call us.”
With that statement, California Republican Congressman Duncan Hunter took matters into his own hands and removed an offensive piece of “art” and returned it to the office of a colleague who had placed it for display in the U.S. Capitol.
“I was angry,” said Hunter, and he wasn’t the only one – other lawmakers had been outraged, as well as more than 27,000 law enforcement personnel who called the piece, “reprehensible, repugnant and repulsive.”
What was so offensive about a piece of artwork that had won first place in a student art competition?
Maybe it was because the acrylic features a pig dressed in a police uniform with a gun aimed at a group of African-American protesters. One of the protesters hangs on a cross, holding the scales of justice.
A white bird and black bird fight in the sky above.
The winning entry, “Untitled,” was the product of David Pulphus, a student at Cardinal Ritter Prep school, and had been on display at the request of Congressman Lacy Clay who represents the St. Louis area that includes Ferguson, Missouri and apparently not only saw nothing offensive in the work, but thought it was appropriate for the U.S. Capitol building.
Hunter says he is friendly with Clay, calling him a “great guy,” but adding, “you’ve got to respect our men in uniform and what they do.”
Clay’s office said the teenager who submitted the painting was drawing from events in Ferguson, which touched off nationwide rioting after false testimony created the mistaken, but widely accepted belief, that an officer shot a defenseless black teenager who was attempting to surrender.
Ron Hernandez, president of the Association for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs, issued a statement saying the association was “very pleased” with Hunter’s action.
“At a time of our country facing rising crime and a shortage of those willing to work the streets as police officers and deputy sheriffs, we need to make it clear that depictions of law enforcement officers as pigs in our Nation’s Capital is not acceptable.”
The simple fact that the “art” was allowed to hang in the public space of the nation’s capitol at all is a statement on the atmosphere that has prevailed in President Obama’s Washington – something that is bound to change on January 20.
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