A high school student's painting is at the center of a battle between two congressmen.
At issue is artwork by a high school student that delves into social injustice and the events in Ferguson, Missouri.
The painting has become a proxy fight between members of the Congressional Black Caucus and Republicans over historical tensions between African Americans and law enforcement.
House Republicans and Democrats are fighting over a painting that depicts police officers as animals and whether the work should be hanging in a tunnel on Capitol Hill between House offices and the U.S. Capitol Building. At around the same time Clay and other members of the CBC gathered to rehang the painting this morning, protesters less than a block away were erupting into chants at the confirmation hearing of attorney general nominee Sen. But this is really not about a student art competition anymore...it's about defending the Constitution.
It wasn't long before Colorado Rep. Doug Lamborn took the dare seriously and removed the painting again on Tuesday, and took it to Rep. William Lacy Clay's office, who represents Ferguson.
However, Clay, whose office the painting keeps resurfacing in, told Politico that Republicans repeatedly removing the painting shows nothing besides a "lack of civility and decorum on the part of members of the majority party of this House". What do you suppose would be the reaction of Rep. Clay and his fellow Democrats if such a painting went on display in the same venue?
"Just yesterday, we honored Law Enforcement Appreciation Day". The rules state art that depicts "subjects of contemporary political controversy or a sensationalistic or gruesome nature are not allowed".
In addition, Rep Dana Rohrabacher, who took the painting down the second time, was one of the initiators on the culture war on the arts in the 1990s: during his very first term in office he called for the total abolition of the National Endowment for the Arts and thus for an end to federal funding for art. Lacy told reporters. "It is just pathetic that some Republican members and alt-right media types who constantly refer to themselves as constitutional conservatives don't think that that same document protects the fundamental free speech rights of my 18-year-old constituent". Breitbart news previously reported that the painting depicts police officers as animals with tusks.
Clay said Pulphus' painting offers a glimpse into how a young man views the world. Nobody objected to it until earlier this month, when police organizations began raising objections to the painting's depiction of an officer as a pig. The background includes the Gateway Arch in St. Louis and a young black man looking out from prison bars.
Pulphus' work was one of hundreds of winners in the annual Congressional Arts Competition.
"This kid's going to be one of the most famous artists in America", remarked Democratic Rep. Joe Crowley of NY as he walked by.