Home Arts Climate activists, protesting federal charges against their colleagues, gather at the Metropolitan Museum

Climate activists, protesting federal charges against their colleagues, gather at the Metropolitan Museum

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Activists staged a demonstration at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York on June 24 to protest what they say are excessive charges against Joanna Smith and Tim Martin, two members of the climate group Declare Emergency who are facing indictment government after splattering paint on the display case of an Edgar Degas sculpture at the National Gallery of Art (NGA) in Washington, DC, earlier this year.

A group of 20 activists from the groups Extinction Rebellion and Rise & Resist staged a protest around a bronze edition of Degas’s work, The Little Fourteen-Year-Old Dancer Or Little fourteen-year-old dancer, at the Met. Activists covered their mouths with pieces of duct tape containing words like “Glaciers”, “Famine”, “Floods” and “Wildlife”, which the groups say symbolize the repression facing activists in the climate. Protesters raised their palms, which were colored red and black to reflect Smith and Martin’s protest.

Last month, Smith and Martin were charged with federal conspiracy charges after their arrest for paint smudges on the canopy of a wax version of Degas’ sculpture at the NGA in April.

“This art is beautiful, and we are damaging it with climate change. We need our leaders to take urgent action and tell us the truth about the climate crisis,” Smith says in video footage of the protest.

Both Smith and Martin have been charged with conspiracy to commit an offense against the United States and causing damage to NGA property, and face up to five years in prison and fines of up to $250. $000 each. Their protest caused an estimated $2,400 in damage to the NGA installation, the museum said, and the Degas sculpture itself was not damaged.

The activists say the severity of the charges reflects a recent trend of ‘unjustifiably harsh’ consequences for climate activists, and they suspect they are part of a ‘deliberate strategy of intimidation targeting these groups and their supporters’, according to a spokesperson for Extinction Rebellion.

“If Joanna and Tim had been graffiti artists using finger paint to tag plexiglass, they wouldn’t have faced the prospect of long prison sentences. Their indictment is not based on their actions, but on their This is a charge of intimidation, rather than a pursuit of justice,” Stu Waldman, an organizer with Rise & Resist, said in a statement.

Smith and Martin’s protest was the first large-scale demonstration of climate change in an American museum. Last year, climate protesters in the UK and Europe began demonstrating in museums, often stick to the frames Or throw substances on the protective glass of famous works of art to advertise their cause. No works were damaged by the protests, but the International Council of Museums (ICOM) said in a statement that climate change groups “severely underestimate the fragility” of the artwork.

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