Two climate protesters now face federal charges over their destructive demonstration in the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC last month.
The US Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia issued a press release detailing charges against 53-year-olds Timothy Martin of North Carolina and Joanna Smith of New York.
Both were charged with conspiracy to commit an offense against the United States and injury to a National Gallery of Art exhibit. They turned themselves over to authorities voluntarily.
The two acted as part of a group called Declare Emergency, which facilitates controversial protests against the continued use of fossil fuels.
Martin and Smith stormed into the National Gallery of Art where they smeared red and black paint on the display case of “Little Dancer Aged Fourteen” by Degas, a French artist known more for his paintings than his sculpture, which makes the piece exceedingly rare.
“We need our leaders to take serious action, to tell us the truth about what is happening with the climate,” one of the pair was heard saying on a video recording of the incident.
The press release also notes that the two notified The Washington Post of their plans in advance, which did publish a piece on the act.
Unhinged Climate Protests Target Art
The stunt is just the latest in a series of climate protests targeting famous works of art in museums.
One of the most notorious incidents brought the demonstrations to the world’s attention, when protesters threw tomato soup at Sunflowers by Vincent Van Gogh before gluing their hands to a nearby wall.
Copycats from various activist groups quickly launched similar stunts, targeting Grainstacks by Claude Monet, The Sower by Van Gogh, and even most recently dumping black ink into Rome’s famous fountain, Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi.
The groups are considered ecovandals in many countries, where several governments are considering new legislation with increased penalties against them.