Bay Area police unions joined law enforcement groups around the country Thursday calling on House Speaker Paul Ryan to remove a painting from the U.S. Capitol complex.
A letter jointly sent by police unions around the country, including those in San Francisco, Oakland and San Jose states:
"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 work in question, “Untitled #1” by David Pulphus, who was a high school student in St. Louis, Missouri, at the time he made the painting, depicts the unrest in Ferguson after the death of Michael Brown in 2014. Brown, an 18-year-old black man, was fatally shot by a white police officer after robbing a convenience store. In the painting, cops with the heads of boars (a type of pig) aim guns at the protesters.
The acrylic painting has been on display for months after it won an annual art contest put on by Missouri Democrat William Lacy Clay last May. A number of members of Congress sponsor art competitions, though they don't judge the art themselves. Clay was not a judge in this particular contest.
But Paul Kelly of the San José Police Officers Association says the work is “hateful” and "basically paints all law enforcement essentially as racists."