WASHINGTON – A federal judge has blocked efforts to bring back to U.S. Capitol grounds a controversial painting that depicts a police officer as a pig, reported Fox News.
David Pulphus, a student artist from Missouri, and Rep. William Clay, his Democratic congressional representative, had sued Architect of the Capitol Stephen Ayers for removing the painting in January amid a showdown with law enforcement groups and Republican lawmakers who opposed the “art.”
U.S. District Judge John D. Bates said in his decision that the government has used its editorial discretion in the selection and presentation of the piece.
As a result, it’s engaging in “government speech” and the plaintiffs have no First Amendment right to display the painting.
The controversy is due to the offensive nature of the painting. It appears to show a pig in a police uniform aiming a gun at a black wolf holding a sign that says, “STOP KILL.” Moreover, above the scene, two birds — one black, one white — fight, and beside them, a black protester holding a scale of justice is crucified.
Law enforcement groups had strongly objected to the painting’s display on the Capitol complex grounds.
“During a time in our society when tensions are so high that someone can be offended by a single word, this painting does nothing but attack law enforcement to its core,” Andy Maybo, president of The Fraternal Order of Police District of Columbia Lodge #1, told The Daily Caller when the painting was original displayed. “The fact that a member of Congress would advocate and praise such a painting is reprehensible.”
Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., took the painting down and returned it to Clay’s office last year. “I was angry,” Hunter told Fox News in January. “I’ve seen the press [reporting] on this for about a week or so. … I’m in the Marine Corps. If you want it done, just call us.”
Although Hunter argued the painting was inappropriate, Clay put it back up.
Republicans eventually issued a formal complaint that led to the architect of the Capitol removing it in January.
Leah J. Tulin, a lawyer representing Pulphus and Clay, says they are likely to appeal.