Democratic lawmakers on Tuesday put back on display twice a controversial painting that depicts a police officer as a pig, in a growing tit-for-tat with Republicans angry over its depiction of law enforcement.
The painting is part of a student-art contest on display along a Capitol Hill corridor and remained largely unnoticed for about seven months, until officer groups began to complain. California Republican Rep. Duncan Hunter on Friday personally removed the painting, saying he was angered by its depiction of police.
Democratic Rep. Lacy Clay, a member of the Congressional Black Caucus from whose Missouri district the picture came, hung the painting back up Tuesday, calling Hunters action blatant censorship.
But then another Republican colleague, Colorado Rep. Doug Lamborn, took the painting down Tuesday afternoon, bringing it back to Clays office and saying it doesnt belong in the Capitol.
Clay rehung it again.
It was wrong and it was inappropriate, Clay said Tuesday morning of efforts to take down the painting. Its not about defending an art contest. Its about defending the Constitution.
Clay has said he wants Capitol Hill police to file theft charges against Hunter, who after removing the painting returned it to Clays congressional office. Clay said Tuesday he has not heard from the police but does not intend to personally take legal action.
Fox News has learned the Capitol Police are not expected to take up the probe.
Clay insisted he is not anti-police and said he does not agree or disagree with the painting — arguing his intent is to defend the First Amendment rights of the 18-year-old artist, David Pulphus.
He argued the artists world view has been shaped by the animalistic behavior of police officers, particularly the recent, high-profile cases in which unarmed black males died in confrontations with police.
Hunter said Tuesday before the painting was rehung: It doesnt belong in the U.S. Capitol. Its that simple. It violates the rules of the art competition. You cannot have offensive things in the competition and this does.
He said the rules do not allow paintings with “sensationalistic” subjects or those that depict “contemporary political controversy.”
The acrylic painting depicts a police officer as a pig in uniform aiming a gun at African-American protesters. Above the scene, two birds — one black, one white — fight, and beside them, an African-American protester holding a scale of justice is crucified.
Law enforcement groups had strongly objected to the paintings display on the Capitol complex grounds, with one group calling it reprehensible, repugnant and repulsive.
Earlier Tuesday, Hunter said on the Fox News Channels Fox & Friends: The Capitol Police arent going to arrest me for taking down a picture that portrays them as pigs.
He plans to ask the Architect of the Capitol to have the painting removed.
FoxNews.com’s Joseph Weber and Judson Berger and Fox News Chad Pergram contributed to this report.