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On Thursday morning, House Speaker Paul Ryan broke his silence regarding a piece of artwork that has pulled at the strings of partisanship in the U.S. Congress, CNN reports.

The painting, created by a Ferguson student named David Pulphus, depicts an intense protest scene with police officers portrayed as animals.

Pulphus was the recipient of last year’s Congressional Arts Competition which awarded him the opportunity to hang his painting in the United States Capitol. The artwork currently hangs in a hallway which connects congressional offices with the Capitol Building.

Ryan, who was a guest on conservative radio host Mike Gallagher’s show, said the following during his interview:

“This isn’t a question of First Amendment rights. Of course this young person has the right to do something like this wherever they want to,” the Speaker said. “But we do have rules that govern these paintings, so it’s not as if you have a constitutional right to hang whatever you want in the House hallway in the Capitol gallery.”

He also confirmed earlier reports that his office would draft a response to the painting and delve into congressional rules governing artwork hung in the Capitol.

“This is not a free-for-all, you know, contest, where anything goes in the Capitol. There are rules that govern this. We see that this does not fit the rules, and so we are processing that decision right now,” Ryan said.

Several GOP members of congress have been outspoken in opposition to the painting and have removed it from the hallway three times this week.

At the close of the interview, Ryan said he was confident the painting would be permanently removed.


Why Do GOP Lawmakers Keep Removing This Ferguson Painting From The U.S. Capitol Grounds?

Members of the Congressional Black Caucus are embroiled in a bitter battle with GOP legislators over the removal of a controversial Ferguson painting depicting scenes of police brutality, according to a report by NBC News.

Officers in the painting are portrayed as farm animals with guns aimed at demonstrators, while several protests unfold in the background. The scene evokes the aftermath of the Ferguson protests following the 2014 shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed Black teenager.

The painting by Ferguson student David Pulphus was selected last year among a bevy of contestants as part of the Congressional Arts Competition and resides in an underground tunnel that connects congressional offices with the United States Capitol building.

To date, the painting has been removed and hung again at least three times in the past week, NBC reports. Each time it is returned to the office of Rep. Lacy Clay, D-Mo., Ferguson’s congressional representative.

Clay told reporters that repeatedly hanging the painting was making him “dizzy,” but that he would remain “persistent in protecting my constituents’ constitutional rights of free speech.”

One of the painting’s outspoken detractors, Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., claims the artwork incites violence against police. “It’s offensive. It portrays police officers as pigs and it doesn’t belong in the U.S. Capitol. It’s that simple,” Hunter said.

As of Wednesday, the painting remained up.

According to NBC, Rep. Paul Ryan on Tuesday told several GOP members of Congress that he would move to have the painting removed. Ryan’s office is currently working on a draft addressed to the Architect of the Capitol, prompting a review of the painting and the rules laid out in the art competition’s guidelines.



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