Congressman plans to sue over removal of painting depicting cops as pigs

WASHINGTON – The office of a Missouri congressman says he intends to file a federal lawsuit over the removal of a constituent’s painting from its display on Capitol Hill.

The painting, which shows a pig in a police uniform, divided members of Congress for its depiction of Ferguson, Missouri, where weeks of protests occurred after the police shooting of an unarmed black man.

The painting, one of 400-plus winning entries in the Congressional Arts Competition, hung in a tunnel leading to the Capitol for more than seven months.

Some conservative media outlets called for its removal and Republican lawmakers took it down and returned it to Democratic Rep. William Lacy Clay’s office. Clay put it back up, saying its removal violated a constituent’s First Amendment right to freedom of expression.

Clay’s office said he will file a lawsuit Tuesday “in response to the arbitrary and unconstitutional disqualification and removal” of the painting.

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“Congressman Clay is seeking an appropriate remedy through this federal litigation and he is proud to defend both the fundamental rights of his constituent and the First Amendment,” according to an advisory his office sent in advance of a press conference Clay intends to hold Tuesday outside the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

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