Rep. Dave Reichert (R-Wash.) tried to get ahead of a debate over a controversial painting by a high school student that has since sparked what the Congress member calls “childish acts,” he told KIRO Radio’s Tom and Curley.
The painting, which depicts a pig in a police uniform aiming a gun at a protester, is currently hanging on a wall on Capitol Hill in Washington D.C. Rep. William Lacy Clay (D-Mo.) rehung the painting on Tuesday after another lawmaker removed it.
Joined by several lawmakers, including other members of the Congressional Black Caucus, Clay said returning the painting was about defending the Constitution, the Associated Press reports.
“I do not agree or disagree with this painting,” Clay said. “But I will fight to defend this young man’s right to express himself because his artwork is true for him and he is entitled to that protection under the law.”
The painting of Ferguson, Missouri that won an annual art competition in Clay’s congressional district depicts an officer with tusks like that of a razorback pig. The image includes the Gateway Arch in St. Louis and a black man looking out from prison bars.
The painting initially offended one person, according to Reichert. However, word about the painting spread quickly. Eventually, Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) removed the painting, placing it in Clay’s office.
Though the painting is back on display, Reichert is now trying to determine whether or not it violates rules of the competition that got it on Capitol Hill in the first place.
He added: “I just want to resolve this thing in an adult way … We’re trying to work together, however, there are those back here that would rather take sensationalistic actions.”
The Associated Press reports that Clay is ready to have a debate about the painting. There are works of art around the Capitol that others find offensive, he said.