Oil protesters arrested after tomato soup was thrown at Van Gogh painting

“Just Stop Oil” activists hang their hands on a wall after throwing soup at a Van Gogh painting “Sunflowers” at the National Gallery in London, Britain October 14, 2022.

Just stop the oil | Reuters

Activists from the Just Stop Oil campaign group were arrested Friday after throwing tomato soup on Vincent van Gogh’s famous “Sunflowers”, which hangs in the National Gallery in London.

Then the demonstrators plastered themselves on the wall next to the painting.

“What is more valuable, art or life? Is it worth more than food? Is it worth more than justice? Are you more concerned with protecting a painting or protecting our planet and people? The cost of living crisis is part of the cost of the oil crisis, and fuel is unaffordable for millions of cold and hungry families They can’t even heat a can of soup,” said one of the activists, as video footage of the events shows.

According to the London Metropolitan Police, the two women were removed from the wall by specialists and taken into custody after they were arrested on charges of “criminal tort and aggravated trespass”.

A Just Stop Oil activist is arrested after dumping Van Gogh sunflower soup at the National Portrait Gallery on October 14, 2022 in London, England.

Martin Bob | Getty Images

A spokesman for the National Gallery confirmed that there was no damage to the painting, which is valued at 72.5 million pounds ($80.99 million).

“Some minor damage to the frame but the painting was not damaged,” they told CNBC.

Just Stop Oil has been protesting in the British capital for the past two weeks. The group said in a press statement that its actions were “in response to the government’s inaction in both the cost of living crisis and the climate crisis.”

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The group also said it was calling on the UK government to put an end to all new oil and gas projects in the country.

Earlier this month, the UK’s North Sea Transitional Authority, which is responsible for maximizing the country’s economic gains from oil and gas reserves in the North Sea, began granting new licenses to companies that drill for underwater fossil fuels.

The issuance of such licenses was previously suspended in 2020 as the government said it was in the process of conducting a “climate check”. After being elected prime minister in September, Conservative leader Liz Truss and her Business and Energy Secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg announced that the process would resume.

Just Stop Oil protesters block St George’s Circus Roundabout in South London on October 13, 2022 in London, England.

Jay Smallman | Getty Images

the new The government also lifted the ban on hydraulic fracturingwhich was implemented in 2019 due to fears of causing earthquakes.

The moves were related to the energy crisis that gripped Europe in the wake of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

They have received widespread criticism from environmental groups, including Greenpeace, as well as politicians from the opposition Labor Party.

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