Climate Activists Vandalize Stonehenge With Orange Paint
26 January 2024, Great Britain, Salisbury: View of the Stone Age monument Stonehenge. The Stonehenge stone circle, which was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1986, is one of Britain's most famous landmarks.
(Photo by Benedikt von Imhoff/picture alliance via Getty Images)

Protesters demonstrating against fossil fuels spray-painted Stonehenge in the United Kingdom on Wednesday.

A group called Just Stop Oil shared video on social media showing what it said were two “supporters” covering part of the megalith with orange powder paint around noon local time.

“They are demanding that the incoming UK government commit to working with other governments to agree an equitable plan to end the extraction and burning of oil, gas and coal by 2030,” the group said.

Other people can be seen in the clip, which has garnered millions of views on X, intervening and taking away the fire extinguishers the protesters were using.

Wiltshire police said officers arrested two people following the incident in the afternoon.

“At around noon, we responded to a report that orange paint had been sprayed on some of the stones by two suspects,” Wiltshire police said. “Officers attended the scene and arrested two people on suspicion of damaging the ancient monument.”

Police added, “Our enquiries are ongoing, and we are working closely with English Heritage,” referring to the charity that cares for hundreds of historical monuments, buildings, and places — including Stonehenge.

Just Stop Oil identified the protesters as a 21-year-old student from Oxford and a 73-year-old from Birmingham. The group noted the demonstration took place one day before the summer solstice is expected to draw thousands of people to the site.

“Orange powdered paint has been thrown at a number of the stones at Stonehenge. Obviously, this is extremely upsetting and our curators are investigating the extent of the damage,” said an X account for Stonehenge run by English Heritage. “More updates to follow but the site remains open.”

Just Stop Oil claimed the orange powder paint was made of cornflour and should wash away in the rain.

BBC correspondent Paul Clifton, who reported to the scene at Stonehenge after the incident, said he “heard a suggestion that because it is powder paint and the weather is dry and sunny, it may perhaps be removed without lasting damage, but they will need experts to inspect the stone before forming an opinion.”

In recent years, climate activists have used paint to target various works of art in museums, a private jet, and monuments in places across Europe.

The act of vandalism at Stonehenge drew some outrage from public officials, including U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. “Just Stop Oil are a disgrace,” he said on X.

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