Two Just Stop Oil Activists Arrested for Damaging Protective Glass of Rokeby Venus at National Gallery in London

Two Just Stop Oil Activists Arrested for Damaging Protective Glass of Rokeby Venus at National Gallery in London

London (Parliament Politic Magazine) – The Metropolitan Police confirmed the arrest of two individuals suspected of causing criminal damage, identified by Just Stop Oil as Hanan, 22, and Harrison, 20, who used safety hammers to break the glass protecting the artwork.

In a separate incident, approximately 100 Just Stop Oil protesters were apprehended during a slow march on Whitehall.

The Rokeby Venus, a masterpiece by Diego Velazquez from the 1600s, had previously been slashed by suffragette Mary Richardson in 1914.

Arrests Made as Just Stop Oil Activists Target Rokeby Venus Painting

Reacting to the recent events, Just Stop Oil (JSO) stated, “Women didn’t secure the right to vote through ballots alone; it’s time for action, not just words. Political systems failed women in 1914, and they’re failing us now. The expansion of new oil and gas threatens countless lives. If we value art, life, and our families, it’s imperative to Just Stop Oil.

Initial reports suggested that activists had targeted the Cenotaph memorial, a move criticized by members of Parliament and the mayor. However, both the group and the police have since denied these allegations.

Sadiq Khan and Labour’s shadow home secretary, Yvette Cooper, both expressed their disapproval of targeting the monument in now-deleted posts.

Tory party deputy chairman Lee Anderson shared a picture on social media platform X, claiming that JSO protesters were “now stuck to the Cenotaph.”

According to the activists, they had been relocated to the base of the monument after disrupting traffic on Whitehall, a statement supported by one officer present at the scene.

Protesters’ Actions Trigger New Arrest Powers Under Public Order Act

The Metropolitan Police confirmed that no offenses were linked to the Cenotaph, and no protesters had adhered themselves to the road. They added that the arrests were made for violating section 7 of the Public Order Act at various locations between Trafalgar Square, Parliament Square, and the vicinity of the Cenotaph.

Protesters who do not cooperate with law enforcement may face arrest under section seven of the Public Order Act, which was recently enacted. This section allows for arrests when the demonstrators’ actions “disrupt the functioning or utilization of vital national infrastructure in England and Wales.”

The government emphasized that these new regulations are not intended to prohibit protests but rather to deter a small minority of individuals from causing significant disruptions to the daily routines of the general public.

Human rights organization Liberty issued a response to the arrests, stating, “The deployment of this new authority represents a perilous intensification of the assault on the right to protest, with the potential for protesters to face imprisonment of up to a year for advocating their beliefs.”

“These arrests manifestly seek to stigmatize individuals for exercising this right. Through the enactment of these new laws, the government has striven to heighten the challenges faced by the public in their efforts to challenge authority.”

Read More: Edinburgh Bonfire Night Chaos: Police Targeted with Petrol Bombs

Just Stop Oil Activists Charged with Disrupting Les Miserables Performance

A series of Just Stop Oil demonstrations have occurred in recent days, including an incident on Wednesday when over 30 individuals were charged following a blockade on Earl’s Court Road.

Five individuals associated with Just Stop Oil have appeared in court facing charges related to disrupting a performance of Les Miserables in London’s West End.

According to Westminster Magistrates’ Court, the production at the Sondheim Theatre was brought to a standstill at 21:00 GMT on October 5.

The protesters have all entered pleas of not guilty to a single charge of aggravated trespass. District Judge Michael Snow informed the defendants that the show’s cancellation incurred approximately £80,000 in expenses for the theater. He cautioned that they might be held responsible for the full amount if found guilty.

The protesters on trial are identified as:

  • Hannah Taylor, aged 23
  • Lydia Gribbin, aged 28
  • Hanan Ameur, aged 22
  • Noah Crane, aged 18
  • Poppy Bliss, aged 19

Lydia Gribbin requested that the trial be scheduled for the end of February due to her absence. However, Judge Snow stated, “I’m afraid I won’t delay the proceedings for your return from India,” adding, “If you have to miss out on things, you have to miss out on things.”

The trial is set to commence at City of London Magistrates’ Court on February 5.

Beth Malcolm

Beth Malcolm is Scottish based Journalist at Heriot-Watt University studying French and British Sign Language. She is originally from the north west of England but is living in Edinburgh to complete her studies.