The architect of the U.S. Capitol has determined that a controversial painting hung by a Missouri congressman violates standards adopted by House officials and will be removed on Tuesday. Politico reports that the decision is likely to inflame a tense dynamic that has pitted members of the Congressional Black Caucus against GOP lawmakers, who have been clamoring to remove the painting by a high school student from the district that includes Ferguson that highlights the racial tension that erupted between police and citizens after the death of Michael Brown.
The canvas depicts two police officers with animal heads pointing guns at black citizens, one of whom is depicted as a wolf. A sign in the background reads “racism kills.” It was selected by the district’s congressman, Rep. Lacy Clay (D-MO), to hang as part of a competition that displays art projects in the Capitol. Critics said the officers were depicted as pigs, which sparked outrage among Republican lawmakers and some police groups. Supporters said it was an example of free expression that deserved to be displayed. The dispute led to a bizarre back-and-forth as GOP lawmakers unilaterally ripped the painting from the wall and returned it to Clay’s office, only to have Clay and his allies rehang it alongside other paintings selected in the competition. Rep. David Reichert (R-WA) complained to the Capitol architect that the painting violated standards set by the House Office Buildings Commission that prohibit artwork depicting “contemporary political controversies.”