A "kill cops" message on a Pennsylvania college student's painting raised the ire of a local police union — but the artist said those two words were among many messages on the painting and that anger is out of context, WJET-TV reported.
The 20-year-old Allegheny College student — who remained anonymous over fear of retaliation — told the station the "kill cops" words appear as part of an overall depiction of urban street art and that those two words "were stripped away of the totality of the rest of the competition [and] the meaning behind it."
Here's a look at the painting more in total; the "kill cops" portion is on the middle panel:
The artist added to WJET, "I hope that there is no ill will between Allegheny, Meadville, or between cops and anyone."
What did the police union have to say?
The Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 97 for Meadville City Police noted on its Facebook page that it was none too pleased with the painting.
"Maybe the artist had good intentions," the post read. "Art is open for individual interpretation. [But] freedom of expression does come with consequences. It is known that some employees of Allegheny asked administrators for the picture to be removed because of the Kill Cops portion. Their request was ignored even with a warning that the depiction could be inflammatory."
An image of the "kill cops" portion of the painting as well as one that showed a fuller view of the overall painting also was on the FOP post, which added that it was "disappointing that this was displayed, more disappointing that it took so much outcry for it to actually be removed. To everyone that supports law enforcement, thank you so much for your continued support."
What did the college have to say?
Allegheny College released a statement concerning the painting, the station said:
The artist, the art Department, and Allegheny College do not condone violence toward police or any group of people. This artwork when viewed fully documents an urban street scene in which many controversial slogans are visible. The intent from the artist is to call for an end to mindless violence, just the opposite from the context being circulated on social media. But, because of this unintended consequence, the artist has agreed to remove the piece from public display. To further this conversation, the Art Department and the artist will offer a panel discussion to the campus community later in the semester.
What did a local resident have to say?
"When you write something like that, that's pretty negative in my book, so I'm not a fan of it at all," Meadville resident Chris Brucker told WJET. "Not sure how I looked at the rest of the painting, didn't see much else that I understood."
He added to the station that even though the painting contains more than simply the "kill cops" message, those two words can lead to negative things.
"I know the First Amendment says freedom of speech and everything, but I think there's a line, 'cause a lot of people start thinking in good and bad ways," Brucker also told WJET.
(H/T: Blue Lives Matter)