Pelosi's Appeal to Rehang Black Student's Painting in Capitol Denied

Bay Area police unions joined law enforcement groups around the country Thursday calling on House Speaker Paul Ryan to remove this painting, "Untitled #1," by high school student David Pulphus, from the U.S. Capitol complex. (Photo: Courtesy of David Pulphus)

Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), the House minority leader, appealed but could not overturn a decision by the Architect of the Capitol to take down a high school student's painting that depicted police officers as warthogs.

The Architect decided to take down the painting last month after police unions and Republican congressmen protested the art work, which was hung in an underground tunnel linking the Capitol and office buildings used by the House.

Pelosi called for a meeting of the House Office Building Commission to appeal the decision not long after the painting was removed but the Republicans on the panel denied her Friday, according to The Hill.

Bay Area police unions joined law enforcement groups around the country calling on House Speaker Paul Ryan to remove this painting from the US Capitol complex. The artist's father Jonathan Pulphus says his son is taking the controversy in stride. "He understands that freedom of speech applies to everyone. They are entitled to their own opinion as well."
Bay Area police unions joined law enforcement groups around the country calling on House Speaker Paul Ryan to remove this painting from the US Capitol complex. The artist's father Jonathan Pulphus says his son is taking the controversy in stride. "He understands that freedom of speech applies to everyone. They are entitled to their own opinion as well." (Photo: Courtesy of David Pulphus)

The acrylic painting, “Untitled #1,” is by David Pulphus, who was a high school student in St. Louis, Missouri during the 2014 riots in nearby Ferguson, which occurred after the controversial fatal shooting of teenager Michael Brown by a local police officer. The work depicts law enforcement as boars, who are pointing guns at unarmed citizens that are protesting, some being animals themselves.

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It was submitted into an annual student art competition between congressional offices Rep. William Lacy Clay (D-Mo.), who represents Pulphus's district.

A letter was signed by law enforcement organizations from around the country and sent to congress after word spread of the painting reached conservative media. The letter 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 painting is the first entry to be taken down since the contest began in 1982.

Pelosi sent a letter to Clay Friday that criticized the panel's decision, writing "Thank you for your leadership in protecting the expression of artists. Please convey to your constituent David Pulphus my deepest regrets of the circumstances that led to his painting to be removed. The removal dishonors our traditions and violates the First Amendment.

(Read the letter here.)

Clay reportedly stated that he will hang the painting in his office.

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