Stonehenge sprayed orange by climate protesters

LONDON — Two climate protesters were arrested Wednesday for spraying orange paint on the ancient Stonehenge monument in southern England, police said.

The latest act by Just Stop Oil was quickly condemned by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak as a “disgraceful act of vandalism.”

Video of the incident showed two people running towards the 4,500-year-old stone circle and spraying plumes of orange pigment as a third person attempted to stop them. A few stones were smeared in orange.

UK police said officers had arrested two people after environmental activists sprayed an orange substance on Stonehenge, the renowned prehistoric UNESCO World Heritage Site in southwest England.
An image grab from a video released by the Just Stop Oil climate campaign group shows activists spraying an orange substance at Stonehenge in southwest England, on June 19, 2024. Just Stop Oil / AFP – Getty Images

According to Just Stop Oil’s website, the pigment was made of an “orange cornflour” that would wash away in the rain.

The incident came just before thousands were expected to gather at the prehistoric site to celebrate the summer solstice — the longest day of the year.

English Heritage, which manages the UNESCO World Heritage Site, said it was “extremely upsetting” and said curators were investigating the damage.

Just Stop Oil protesters sit after spraying an orange substance on Stonehenge in southwestern England on June 19, 2024.
Just Stop Oil protesters sit after spraying orange pigment onto Stonehenge.Just Stop Oil / AP

Wiltshire Police said the pair were arrested on suspicion of damaging one of the world’s most famous prehistoric monuments.

Stonehenge was built on the flat lands of Salisbury Plain in stages starting 5,000 years ago, with the unique stone circle erected in the late Neolithic period about 2,500 B.C. Some of the stones, the so-called bluestones, are known to have come from southwest Wales, nearly 150 miles away, but the origins of others remain a mystery.

Just Stop Oil is one of many groups around Europe that have gained attention — and received a lot of blowback — for disrupting sporting events, splashing paint and food on famous works of art and interrupting traffic to draw attention to global warming.

The group said it acted in response to the Labour Party’s recent election manifesto. Labour has said if it wins the election on July 4, it would not issue further licenses for oil and gas exploration. Just Stop Oil backs the moratorium but said it wasn’t enough.

In a statement, the group said Labour, which is leading in polls and widely expected by pundits and politicians to lead the next government, needs to go further and sign a treaty to phase out fossil fuels by 2030.

“Continuing to burn coal, oil and gas will result in the death of millions,” the group said in a statement.

According to the Just Stop Oil website the activists who sprayed the pigment were Niamh Lynch, 21, a student from Oxford, and Rajan Naidu, 73, from Birmingham.

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