Between the Lines: VOTE, Should the Capitol Take Down This Painting of Police as Pigs?

A painting depicting police officers as feral pigs has been ordered removed from the Capitol after months of controversy and a tug of war over whether the art should be on display.

What do you think? As I write this on Monday, Donald Trump is yet to be sworn in as president, but already I and others are wondering what will happen to art and freedom of expression under a leader so thin-skinned and churlish he’d rather tarnish the fourth estate than admit his actions and words are being accurately reported. Is the painting of “pigs” and protesters a canary in the coal mine?

The painting is one among hundreds of other winners of an annual high school art competition that adorn a block-long tunnel used by visitors and members of Congress to travel between the House office buildings and the Capitol. Although there are other controversial works of art on display, the feral cops shouts the loudest. The painting depicts a clash between pig-headed officers and protesters who hold signs that read “History,” “Justice Now” and “Racism Kills.” A black man hangs from a crucifix.

Last week, after weeks of debate, Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) pulled the art down and delivered it to Rep. William Lacy Clay (D-MO), whose constituent painted it. Clay gathered with members of the Congressional Black Caucus and a handful of other members and hung the artwork back on the wall, according to the LA Times and the Washington Post. The painting was taken down and rehung several more times by various members of Congress. On Friday, the Architect of the Capitol Stephen Ayers, who has say over what goes on the tunnel walls, said the painting will be removed before the presidential inauguration.

Is it censorship to remove this painting? Do some messages not belong in the Capitol? Would you be okay with this painting hanging in your Town Hall?

Vote in the poll at, or email your thoughts to

Painting Caption: Cardinal Ritter College Prep High School Senior David Pulphus won first place in this year’s congressional art contest with his painting called “Untitled #1.” Cardinal Ritter College Prep High School is located in the district represented by Congressman Lacy Clay (D-Mo.)

Kristin Palpini

Author: Kristin Palpini

Editor of the Valley Advocate

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