Climate protesters have become a daily sight on London’s streets, undeterred by the honking horns of irate motorists, personal insults and even arrests. This time, Just Stop Oil protesters were arrested after destroying the glass covering a Diego Velazquez painting at London’s National Gallery, as per a report in The Guardian. Several other protesters were detained who blocked the Whitehall.
Two of the protesters were detained on charges of causing criminal damage after they used safety hammers to smash the glass on the Rokeby Venus painting. Velazquez painted the piece in the 1600s, but Mary Richardson, a suffragist, destroyed it in 1914. “Politics is failing us. It failed women in 1914 and it is failing us now. New oil and gas will kill millions. If we love art, if we love life, if we love our families we must Just Stop Oil,” the group said.
At least 40 demonstrators who were “slow marching” through Whitehall, according to the Metropolitan police, were also taken into custody.
Further, the advocacy organisation refuted accusations that it was targeting the war memorial, saying that police officials had moved activists to its base once the route was closed. A protestor who was handcuffed at the base of the war memorial said, “They arrested us in the road and we were dragged to the pavement and then back over here.” According to a police officer, the protesters had been moved to the area “to get them off the road” and for their “own safety”.
Just Stop Oil has been in the news with its high-profile direct-action protests, such as disrupting Premier League football matches and sporting events, to publicise their cause. They have thrown tomato soup on famous paintings and glued themselves to picture frames in galleries. They want the government to end all new oil and gas exploration and have promised not to let up in its protests until it does so.
A few weeks ago, the wedding of George Osborne, the UK’s Former Chancellor of the Exchequer and newspaper editor, was also disrupted by a Just Stop Oil protester who threw orange confetti on the couple. As soon as the couple left the church, a grey-haired woman wearing a floral dress showered them with orange confetti.