Climate Activists Deface Ancient Magna Carta at British Library

Two elderly protesters from Just Stop Oil damaged the protective glass around the Magna Carta at the British Library, holding up a sign and gluing themselves to the display. The Metropolitan police arrested them for suspicion of criminal damage.

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Elderly Climate Activists Target Magna Carta in Bold Protest for Climate Action

In a brazen act of protest, two elderly climate activists affiliated with the group Just Stop Oil vandalized the protective casing surrounding one of the most revered historical documents, the Magna Carta, at the British Library in London on Friday morning.

The activists, Reverend Sue Parfitt, aged 82, and Judy Bruce, 85, a retired biology teacher, gained entry to the library's Treasures Gallery where they used a hammer and chisel in an attempt to smash through the reinforced glass enclosure housing the 13th-century charter. After inflicting minor damage, they unfurled a sign reading "The government is breaking the law" and glued themselves to the display case.

Metropolitan Police officers swiftly intervened, arresting the two protesters on suspicion of criminal damage. They remain in custody as of this reporting.  

In a statement released by Just Stop Oil, Parfitt justified their actions, stating, "The Magna Carta is rightly revered, being of great importance to our history, to our freedoms and to our laws. But there will be no freedom, no lawfulness, no rights, if we allow climate breakdown to become the catastrophe that is now threatened."

The British Library confirmed the Magna Carta itself was unharmed, but the Treasures Gallery housing the document has been temporarily closed to the public.

Why this matters: This incident highlights the growing desperation among some climate activists who feel governments are not acting urgently enough to address the climate crisis. While their motives stem from legitimate concerns, defacing culturally significant artifacts is likely to alienate more people than it attracts to their cause.

Key Takeaways:

  • Two elderly climate protesters vandalized the Magna Carta's case at the British Library.
  • They were attempting to draw attention to what they view as the government's inaction on climate change.
  • The Magna Carta itself was not damaged, but the pair face criminal charges.
  • Their group, Just Stop Oil, defended the protest as necessary given the climate "catastrophe."
  • The British Library has temporarily closed the gallery housing the Magna Carta.
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