News & Politics

CBC Chair: 'We May Have to Kick Someone's Ass' for Removing Offensive Painting

The saga of the painting hung in the Capitol building that depicts a policeman as a wild boar continued on Tuesday when the Congressional Black Caucus had a ceremony to rehang the “work of art” after Representative Duncan Hunter removed it. The painting won first prize in an art contest held in Rep. Lacy Clay’s district.

No sooner had it gone up than Rep. Doug Lamborn, a Republican from Colorado, took it down again. This elicited a specific threat of violence from the chairman of the CBC, Rep. Cedric Richmond.

“We may just have to kick somebody’s ass and stop them,” said Richmond.


On Tuesday, CBC members held a ceremony to re-hang it, snapping pictures of the event and daring Republicans to take it down again — and Lamborn obliged.

“Just yesterday, we honored Law Enforcement Appreciation Day. I could not, in good conscience, continue to walk by a painting that so flagrantly disrespected the brave police officers that protect us here in the Capitol and in our communities across the country,” said Lamborn in a statement. “I decided to continue the protest started by my colleague Congressman Hunter and I hope that permanent action is taken to remove this brazen attack on the brave men and women who make up the thin blue line.”

A visibly frustrated Clay told POLITICO he’ll be seeking a meeting with Ryan to address the conflict, saying the repeated removals reflect a “lack of civility and decorum on the part of members of the majority party of this House.”

“Lamborn came over, brought the picture to me, and I made sure he left swiftly from my office,” Clay said. “I’m in the middle of meetings in my office and he brings the picture. It’s a lack of decorum and respect for people’s constituents and people’s First Amendment rights. This kid has a right to express on canvas what he feels. How dare you try to stifle that, try to censor that. That’s wrong.”

Richmond said any escalation of the issue might “open up Pandora’s Box.”

“I’m looking at some paintings that people could probably find some offense to,” he said. “So you just open up Pandora’s Box to, I think, anarchy when it comes to the art around this building.”

“I think it would be a bad move. I think politically it would be an awful move to do that,” he continued.

But Republicans don’t seem prepared to hear their arguments, and Speaker Paul Ryan personally assured GOP members early Tuesday. the painting would be coming down. Longtime police chief David Reichert (R-Wash.) plans to write a letter to the Architect of the Capitol arguing that the painting does not comply with the rules of the U.S. Congressional Art Competition and should be removed.

“We looked up the rules for the art competition: You’re not allowed to have paintings that are sensationally divisive,” Hunter told POLITICO. “Basically the rules don’t allow for things like this.”

To no one’s surprise, the Congressional Black Caucus and Rep. Clay have demonstrated impeccable timing: a black Orlando policewoman was gunned down yesterday and a sheriff’s deputy died in a vehicle accident during the chase to catch the suspect.

Hundreds of law enforcement officers were scouring Orlando early Tuesday for a man suspected of fatally shooting a police officer outside a Walmart.

The suspect fled, triggering an intense manhunt that included door-to-door searches in apartment complexes and the placing of a dozen schools on lockdown.

Another officer died while taking part in the search for the gunman. The Orange County sheriff’s deputy died when his motorcycle collided with another vehicle.

After the deaths of two law enforcement officers in one day, Orlando Police Chief John Mina vowed to find the suspect — who has been identified as Markeith Loyd.

“I’m confident we will find him,” Mina said. “It doesn’t matter where he is. We will track him down to the ends of the Earth to find him.”

Rep. Richmond should be arrested for making terrorist threats. And the entire CBC should hang their heads in shame for their position. It’s not censorship if the painting can hang anywhere — just not the Capitol building of the United States government.

Should the execrable “Piss Christ” by Robert Mapplethorpe be hung in a Catholic church? Perhaps a painting celebrating the lynching of a black person should also be hung in the Capitol building?

This is not an issue of censorship. No one wants to suppress the painting or prevent its showing anywhere else. It’s just that any boob knows there is an appropriate time and a place for everything. The Capitol building is not an appropriate place to hang this painting, nor is this the time to inflame relations between police and the black community.

The CBC is so tone deaf that they can’t see the disgraceful insult they give to law enforcement officers around the country by giving a painting depicting a policeman as a pig their imprimatur. Whatever claim to promoting racial harmony and better relations between blacks and whites the CBC might have made previously, they have certainly lost it as a result of this controversy.