Capitol Hill 'pig painting' permanently removed after uproar

The so-called “pig painting” on Capitol Hill that sparked a partisan tug-of-war touching on race, politics and Americans’ views on police officers has been quietly removed.

Supposedly for good.

The painting -- which depicts a police officer as a pig or warthog with his gun drawn on a protester -- was removed overnight Tuesday by the office of the Architect of the Capitol, which oversees the Capitol Hill complex.

Architect of the Capitol Stephen Ayers told Fox News on Friday that he had determined the painting violates the House Building Commission's rules and would be removed after the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.

The painting was among dozens hanging in the tunnel between the Rotunda and the Cannon House Office Building, from winners of a student art contest.

The artist was an 18-year-old from Missouri Democratic Rep. Lacy Clay's congressional district.

Clay on Tuesday called the removal of the painting again "unconsitutional" and vowed to have Ayers' decision reversed.

"Ultimately, the Constitution will prevail,” said Clay, who now has the painting on display in his Capitol Hill office.

The intervention by Ayers' nonpartisan office caps a frenzy that started Jan. 6 when California GOP Rep. Duncan Hunter removed the painting, which hung essentially unnoticed in the tunnel for about seven months, unitl law enforcement groups noticed and became outraged.

Clay re-hung the painting a few days later, flanked by several other members of the Congressional Black Caucus, in a well-orchestrated media event.

“It was wrong and it was inappropriate,” Clay told a scrum of reporters.

Hunter, strolling past the presser, insisted the painting violated the rules of the art competition.

“You cannot have offensive things in the competition and this does,” he said.

From there, the painting became a political football – with other Republicans stepping forward to remove the painting, only for Clay’s office to put it back up again.

Washington GOP Rep. Dave Reichert, a former county sheriff, finally appealed to Ayers, citing the rules of the art competition that disallows “subjects of contemporary political controversy or a sensationalistic or gruesome nature.”