Radical environmentalists of Just Stop Oil have begun attacking famous artworks with hammers.
On Monday, two student activists from the group smashed the glass covering a Diego Velázquez painting at the National Gallery in London.
“Millions would die,” they shouted during the attack, while demanding an end to new oil and gas licences in the UK.
Police afterwards arrested the two on suspicion of criminal damage, naming them as Hanan, 22, and Harrison, 20.
The Rokeby Venus is a painting by Velázquez, the leading artist of Spain’s Golden Age, and his only surviving female nude.
In 1914, it was badly damaged by a Canadian suffragette.
This was indeed the reason the artwork was targeted again. “Women did not get the vote by voting. It is time for deeds, not words,” Just Stop Oil said.
The painting has been taken down from display, so conservators can inspect it, according to the National Gallery.
In recent years, activists from the Just Stop Oil movement have vandalised valuable art, architectural monuments, and important buildings by splattering them with buckets of paint.
They have also organised high-profile protests on major roads and during sports tournaments.
At the same time as the artwork protest, 100 Just Stop Oil protesters were arrested for slow marching on the road at Whitehall.
The protest was intended to obstruct traffic as part of the group’s civil disobedience strategy.
The UK government, however, has continued to step up annual plans to issue oil and gas licences in the North Sea to lessen the UK’s reliance on unfriendly overseas countries.