Climate Activists' Bizarre Stunt Leaves World-Renowned Landmark "Splattered"

By Javier Sanchez | Thursday, 20 June 2024 08:30 AM
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Image Credit : Photo by John Smith for Reuters

In a shocking act of protest, two activists from the Just Stop Oil campaign have defaced a portion of the historic Stonehenge monument with orange powder paint.

The incident occurred near Salisbury, Wiltshire, at approximately noon on Wednesday, according to the BBC. This act of vandalism comes on the eve of the Summer Solstice celebrations at the 5,000-year-old landmark.

As reported by the BBC, Wiltshire Police have confirmed the arrest of two individuals on suspicion of damaging the ancient monument. The Just Stop Oil group has identified the protesters as Niamh Lynch, a 21-year-old student from Oxford, and Rajan Naidu, a 73-year-old from Birmingham. The group defended their actions, stating that the orange powder paint was made from cornflour and would "wash away with rain".

The incident has drawn widespread condemnation from political figures and the public alike. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak labeled the incident as a “disgraceful act of vandalism”. Similarly, Sir Keir Starmer, Leader of the Labour Party, described the damage as "outrageous" and referred to Just Stop Oil as "pathetic". Eyewitnesses at the scene reported members of the public shouting "no" and rushing to intervene as the activists approached the stone circle at the UNESCO world heritage site.

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English Heritage, the organization responsible for the site, expressed their dismay at the incident. A spokeswoman described the defacement as "extremely upsetting" and confirmed that the site remained open to the public. She also mentioned that curators were "investigating the extent of the damage".

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BBC correspondent Paul Clifton, the first reporter at the scene, noted that the three stones closest to the public path were "splattered" with the powder. He added that many of the tourists visiting the monument were "slightly bemused".

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The Just Stop Oil group justified their actions by stating that their objective was to pressure the next UK government to end the extraction and burning of oil, gas, and coal by 2030. A spokesperson for the group said: "Continuing to burn coal, oil, and gas will result in the death of millions. We have to come together to defend humanity or we risk everything."

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Mike Pitts, an archaeologist and author of How to Build Stonehenge, expressed his concern over the incident. He said: “The monument has been fenced off for decades and the megaliths' surfaces are protected. They are sensitive and they are completely covered in prehistoric markings which remain to be fully studied and any surface damage to the stones is hugely concerning. A rich garden of life has grown on the megaliths, an exceptional lichen garden has grown. So it’s potentially quite concerning.”

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