UPDATE: Police offended by art displayed at Madison Central Public Library
"Don't Shoot" By Mike L'Roy
MADISON (WKOW) -- Wisconsin's top police union is condemning what they call an "ill-conceived promotion" at the Madison Central Library, but officials there are defending their decision to display a painting that depicts a group of militarized police officers pointing their weapons at an African-American child holding a toy gun.
Madison artist Mike L'Roy said the painting is an accurate representation of how he views the relationship between police and minorities right now.
"Every day I wake up, I'm sure every day a colored American wakes up, I mean you gotta walk down the street and you don't know if you or your friend or your family's going to be the next victim on TV," L'Roy told 27 News.
"When we first saw the image - we knew that it was very impactful," said Greg Mickells, director of the Madison Public Library.
Mickells said the decision to allow the painting to go up as part of a local artist showcase wasn't taken lightly.
"We did view the work that it would be controversial, but it did definitely present a point of view coming from a voice in the community that we felt needed to be told," said Mickells.
But to officials at the Wisconsin Professional Police Association (WPPA), it is simply insensitive and inappropriate, especially at a time of such heightened tensions.
"There is something to be said and a lot of work to be done to improve the relationship between law enforcement and the community it serves, we just don't see how this piece being displayed by itself does anything to contribute to that discussion," said WPPA Executive Director Jim Palmer.
After a discussion, the library agreed to let the WPPA post its own statement next to L'Roy's own comments that sit right beside the painting.
"We respect the value of artistic expression and free speech, but we did want to take, exercise those rights in our own regard and collectively express the concerns and the anger and the frustration and really the disappointment that officers in this community are feeling," said Palmer.
L'roy said he is glad this conversation is taking place and believes the image can inspire more thoughtful dialogue.
"Putting it in a painting is more positive than going on social media or doing anything else," said L'Roy. "This is my way of expressing. I feel like it's perfect."
MADISON (WKOW) --- A new art display at the Madison Central Public Library is creating controversy.
Jim Palmer, executive director of the Wisconsin Professional Police Association, and Dan Frei, president of the Madison Professional Police Officers Association, issued the following joint statement in response to the art display.
“Although law enforcement officers have the utmost respect for the value of artistic expression and free speech, we are deeply troubled by the Madison Public Library's latest display. While we appreciate that the anti-law enforcement sentiment expressed in this piece represents the feelings of some, this “stormtrooper” portrayal of police officers who appear to threaten a small child only serves to advance patently negative law enforcement stereotypes at the expense of the important and selfless jobs that our dedicated officers perform.
“To be clear, we are not demanding that the display be taken down, as we do not view that as an appropriate response to this expression of speech. We are, however, exercising that liberty in our own right by voicing the collective reaction of Madison's officers who find this publicly-sponsored art display both offensive and indicative of terribly poor judgment. This is a sensitive time in our community, and the library's decision to showcase this piece in such a one-sided manner amounts to a disturbing endorsement.
“Strengthening the relationship between law enforcement and the community it serves is a serious matter that will require the balanced collaboration of many diverse perspectives. The Madison Public Library's ill-conceived promotion of such a biased and hostile view does little to contribute to that end.”
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