High School Art Exhibition Sparks National Controversy Over Images of Police Brutality

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Photo: via NJ.com
Photo: via NJ.com
Photo: via NJ.com
Photo: via NJ.com
Photo: via NJ.com

A high school located in Westfield, New Jersey, is the site of national controversy over artworks produced by students depicting police brutality, NJ.com reports.

This news comes at the heels of a hot debate over the law enforcement’s abuse of power (see Photographers Beaten and Arrested by Police During Baltimore Freddie Gray Protests and Police Officer Shoots Black Bart Simpson in Artist’s Take on Iconic Cartoon).

The silk-screened artworks, which were submitted for a two-day art show at the school, includes a silhouette of a person with hands raised, sporting a target on the chest.

Photo: via NJ.com

Photo: via NJ.com

“We submitted several different topics of our choice and finally narrowed them down to three—Law Enforcement-Police Brutality, Modern Technology Advances and Gender Equality,” student Kayla McMillan said in a statement. “The students were allowed to choose either side of the arguments and were told they would not be in trouble for their own opinions.”

Images of the said artworks went viral when offended community members and several police officers took to the school’s Facebook page to express their anger.

Retired Texan police officer, Laurie Maloney, who heard about the artworks via Facebook, believes the exhibition topics were narrow-minded.

“It really incensed me that this was so one-sided,”  Maloney told NJ.com. “Showing these pictures to kids could cause them to be afraid of police, and I think that’s wrong.”

Eric Bolling from Fox News was quick to enter the debate. “I get the idea of free speech, but … would you put up an art exhibit showing teachers abusing students?” He continued, “I would like to see that thing taken down.”

The school’s superintendent Margaret Dolan issued a statement after the images surfaced online:

“The art project in question included drawings and captions depicting different viewpoints on a current controversial issue which was chosen by a small group of students. The teacher was attempting to encourage the students to look at more than one side of an issue. One student, for example, had drawn a poster he had seen online during the unrest in another state. The student then wrote his observation that people often rush to judgment before hearing what the real story is.

I am sorry that information that has been passed along via social media and elsewhere has not told the entire story and has led some to believe that we do not respect law enforcement. We do, and we are teaching our students to do the same.”

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