Climate protesters indicted for smearing paint around case of Degas statue

Two climate activists were indicted by a federal grand jury. April protest The U.S. attorney’s office in Washington said Friday that the case protecting Edgar Degas’ “Little Dancer Aged Fourteen” sculpture at the National Gallery of Art contains dirty paint.

According to a news release from federal prosecutors, the climate activists — identified in a recently unsealed indictment as Timothy Martin and Joanna Smith — on Friday visited the National Gallery of Art. I surrendered to authorities on two counts of conspiracy and damaging property. Each charge carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.

At the time of the incident, the climate group that organized the stunt, Declare Emergency, identified the protesters as Smith, 53, of New York, and Martin, 54, of Raleigh, N.C.

Federal authorities allege that Smith and Martin hid the paint in plastic water bottles before smearing it on the case, base and floor around the statue, causing $2,400 in damage. Gallery The exhibit later had to be removed for repairs, according to a news release.

The indictment also accuses Martin and Smith of carrying out a plan with unidentified co-conspirators, including researching “potential targets” at the National Gallery of Art, “minimizing media coverage.” Less than one member” involves telling, and documenting, your plans. Smith and Martin are smearing paint.

After the incident, Kevin Feldman, director of the National Gallery of Art, issued a statement We condemn the protest.

“We unequivocally condemn this physical attack on one of our works of art and will continue to share information as it becomes available,” Feldman said in the statement.

Lawyers representing Smith and Martin said their clients never intended to damage the artwork, but hoped to use the art to draw attention to the climate crisis.

“It wasn’t trying to destroy priceless art. It wasn’t trying to damage federal government property,” said Phil Andonian, an attorney representing Smith. “It was about getting a really important message out to the public and amplifying it.”

Mark Goldstone, a lawyer representing Martin, called the protest a “provocative tactic” and “nonviolent civil disobedience.”

Two members of a climate activist group declared an emergency on April 27 over the “Little Dancer Aged Fourteen” statue. (Video: John Farrell, Jackson Barton/The Washington Post)

On April 27, Martin and Smith approached the statue and used paint to paint pictures on the base. Smith used red paint to draw what appeared to be a tree on fire, while Martin used black paint to draw the house and cloud.

The couple sat cross-legged in front of the statue, waving their paint-covered hands to gallery visitors who stopped to watch the commotion, explaining that they were doing it because of the climate crisis. .

“That’s why we decided to meet this beautiful, sweet baby that the world knows,” Smith said at the time. “He is imperfect as we are all imperfect, but he is strong and not resigned to destruction.”

The paint mess in the gallery is after the protest. around the world Where climate activists have targeted galleries and museums to draw attention to a warming planet.

“These protests around the world are designed to affect people emotionally and engage people emotionally,” Goldstone said. “And the goal is to shock people into facing a global emergency.”

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