Oil protesters were arrested after throwing tomato soup over Van Gogh’s painting

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

Just Stop Oil | Reuters

LONDON — Two activists from the campaign group Just Stop Oil were arrested Friday for throwing tomato soup over Vincent van Gogh’s famous “Sunflower” painting, which hangs in the National Gallery in London.

The protesters then pasted the painting on the adjacent wall.

“Which is more valuable, art or life? More valuable than food? More valuable than justice? Do you care more about the preservation of a painting or the preservation of our planet and people? Part of the cost of living crisis is the price of the oil crisis, making fuel unaffordable for millions of cold, hungry families. They can’t even heat a tin of soup,” said one activist, video footage of the events showed.

According to London’s Metropolitan Police, experts removed the two women from the wall and they have been remanded in custody after being arrested for “criminal damage and aggravated trespass”.

A Just Stop Oil activist is arrested after soup is thrown over Van Gogh’s sunflowers at the National Portrait Gallery in London, England on October 14, 2022.

Martin Pope | Good pictures

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

“There is some minor damage to the frame but the painting is intact,” they told CNBC.

Just Stop Oil has been protesting in the UK capital for the past two weeks. In a press release, the group said its actions were “in response to government inaction on both the cost of living crisis and the climate crisis.”

The group also said it is demanding that the UK government put an end to new oil and gas projects in the country.

Earlier this month, the UK’s North Sea Transition Authority, tasked with maximizing the country’s economic gains from oil and gas reserves in the North Sea, began issuing new licenses to companies conducting underwater fossil fuel exploration.

The issuance of such licenses was previously put on hold until 2020 as the government said it would institute a “climate compatibility test”. After being elected prime minister in September, Conservative leader Liz Truss and her business and energy minister Jacob Rees-Mogg announced the process would restart.

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

Guy Smallman | Good pictures

New The government lifted its banIt was implemented in 2019 over concerns that it could trigger earthquakes.

The moves are tied to an energy crisis in Europe following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

They have drawn widespread criticism from environmental groups including Greenpeace and politicians from the opposition Labor Party.

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