Climate Activists Protest at the Met Due to Harsh Punishments

Climate Activists Gathered Outside of the Metropolitan to Protest Against Harsh Charges for Climate Activism.

Jun 28, 2023By Angela Davic, News, Discoveries, In-depth Reporting, and Analysis
Climate Activists
Protesting at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on June 24, 2023. Photo: Graham MacIndoe.


Climate activists lately started targeting works of art as a way of putting climate problems in focus. This is happening all over the world, all over the internationally famous cultural institutions. The goal is to prevent attacks, so the authorities increased sanctions for environmental activism. Because of this, some protesters gathered at the Met, in sign of protest to these sanctions.


Climate Activists Charges Include Conspiracy

Climate Activists
Members of activist groups Extinction Rebellion and Rise & Resist protesting at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on June 24, 2023. Photo: Graham MacIndoe.


Protesters are members of the Extinction Rebellion and Rise & Resist group. They protested in front of the “Little Dancer Aged Fourteen” sculpture, made by Edgar Degas. Climate activists formed a circle and painted their hands and fingers with a red paint. They also had a few signs with different messages: “Earth is a treasure, no art was harmed”, “No art on a dead planet” and others.


This protest was similar to Joanna Smith’s and Tim Martin’s, at the National Gallery of Art (NGA) in Washington D.C. The two protesters also used red and black paint, which they threw on the case containing “Little Dancer”. The authorities arrested them. This kind of protest was a first one occurring on American soil, after many protests all across Europe. They did not destroy the sculpture, but they caused a damage worth $2,400.


Climate Protesters
The protesters smeared black and red paint on the case and pedestal of Degas’s sculpture “Little Dancer Aged Fourteen” at the National Gallery of Art. COURTESY OF DECLARE EMERGENCY


The state charged them with conspiracy against the U.S. and with an injury to a National Gallery of Art. The maximum penalty for every offense is a five-year jail term and a penalty of up to $250,000. The group protesting said these charges are the highest ever for this kind of action, and are not fair.

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An Indictment of Intimidation?

Letzte Generation Österreich on the sceneLetzte Generation Österreich – Twitter


Stu Waldman, an organizer with Rise & Resist said a few words: “If Joanna and Tim had been graffiti artists using fingerpaint to tag plexiglass, they wouldn’t be facing the prospect of lengthy prison sentences. Their indictment is not based on their actions, but on their motivations. It is an indictment of intimidation, rather than a pursuit of justice”.


In addition, protesters at the Met wrapped their lips using black tape that had words such as “Famine,” “Floods,” “Glaciers,” and “Wildlife”, as a representation of the “suppression faced by activists,” according to the release. Officials from the Metropolitan claim that there was no harm caused by the protest. The demonstration is part of a larger #FreeTheDegasTwo campaign.


Extinction Rebellion
Via group Extinction Rebellion and Rise & Resist.


“If our government still possesses any remnants of democracy, it must not permit climate criminals to elude accountability, while simultaneously punishing citizens who dare to challenge their wrongdoing—citizens who themselves are victims of the actions of these climate criminals”, said Georgia B. Smith, a member of Extinction Rebellion.

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By Angela DavicNews, Discoveries, In-depth Reporting, and AnalysisAngela is a journalism student at the Faculty of Political Science in Belgrade and received a scholarship for continued education in Prague. She completed her internship at the daily newspaper DANAS and worked as an executive editor at Talas.