Climate Activists

Elise Guerrero, Writer

Saturday, October 15th a pair of climate activists were seen destroying public property. They were hoping to get the attention of the people around them to listen to their speech. But they did this in such a manner that scared the public. They threw a can of tomato soup at a famous Vincent Van Gogh painting.

I’m sure many of you have seen or at least heard of the painting titled “Sunflowers” created by the famous artist Vincent Van Gogh in the 1800’s. The painting shows a yellow room with a yellow vase sitting on a table, with a bouquet of sunflowers spilling out. The painting was created to represent gratitude and happiness. And is currently worth $39,921,750.

The activists were two women in their early 20’s. The two were a part of a group called the “Members of Just Stop Oil.” It is an environmental activist group in the UK that uses civil resistance with the intention of ensuring the UK government commits to stopping new fossil fuel licensing and its production. They hope to force governments to take immediate action by ending the climate and biodiversity crisis and continue protecting communities.

Anna Holland and Phoebe Plummer threw the can of tomato soup at the Sunflower located at the National Gallery in London. Fortunately the painting was protected by a glass that was sitting in between the painting and the frame. The painting doesn’t appear to be damaged, but the fame will most likely have to be replaced. After throwing the can of soup the two women began to pour glue on their hands. The two of them stuck their hands to the wall behind them, the same wall the painting hung on and began to make their speech.

The two of them begin, “What is worth more? Art or life? Is it worth more than food? Worth more than justice? Are you more concerned about the protection of a painting, or the protection of our planet and people?”They continued, “The cost of living crisis is part of the cost of oil crisis. Fuel is unaffordable to millions of cold, hungry families. They can’t even afford to heat a tin of soup!”

After the incident the police were called by security. They cleared out the room of visitors, officers were on sight, and the two were then arrested. The women pleaded not guilty when taken to the Westminster Magistrates court and spoke only to confirm their names, dates of birth, addresses, and to enter their pleas to charges of criminal damages for a value less than $5,000. District judge Tan Irkam released the two on bail on the conditions that they will never enter galleries or museums, and cannot have paint or adhesive substances on their person in all public places. The reason behind their bail was said that the pair threw the, “orange substance knowing there was a protective case over the actual painting, though damage was caused to the frame itself.”.

It’s crazy to see the extremes organizations will go to so that they will be heard. These two definitely knew how to attract a crowd. Let’s just hope next time we see them it won’t be because they are damaging public property. Again.