Lawmakers Feud Over Controversial Painting at Capitol

A fight has erupted between lawmakers on Capitol Hill over a student painting that depicts police officers as pigs. Missouri Rep. Lacy Clay (D-MO) had filed a police report after fellow lawmaker Duncan Hunter (R-CA) took it upon himself Friday to remove the artwork from the Capitol, a move which Clay said constituted theft. On Monday, however, Clay said Capitol Police ignored the complaint. The painting, an entry from an art contest in Missouri, depicts policemen as pigs in the artist’s portrayal of the riots in Ferguson that erupted after a white police officer shot an unarmed black man in 2014. Hunter took the painting down after several police organizations complained that it was disrespectful—a move that Clay equated with censorship. On Monday, he questioned police over their refusal to take action.

“Our office was informed an hour ago that you personally declined to take an official complaint from U.S. Rep. Wm. Lacy Clay regarding the theft of his district painting on loan to the U.S. House for display,” Yvette Cravins, Clay’s chief of staff, wrote to Capitol Police on Monday, according to Politico. “There is a clear D.C. statute that defines theft—it is a taking and carrying away of the property of another without right. If you have a different perspective, please explain. Further, please explain why Congressman Duncan Hunter appears to be above the law,” Cravins wrote. Joe Kasper, Hunter’s chief of staff, said Hunter and his team were “less than zero percent worried about this,” adding that “all the right people” had reassured them what they did was not theft.