The Authors Guild has signed on to a statement drafted by the National Coalition Against Censorship condemning the removal of a high school student’s painting from Capitol Hill. The painting, a winner of the annual Congressional Art Competition, depicts a protest against police violence. It was removed after becoming the subject of a controversy stoked by news outlets in December.

“Political artistic expression is protected speech,” the letter states, “no matter how controversial or offensive some may find it. . . . Citizens’ freedom to speak out against perceived governmental abuses and injustices is necessary to the health of our democracy.”

Read the full statement below.