Spanish Police Make Mass Arrest of Climate Activists Following Museum Demonstrations

Spanish authorities have arrested a group of climate activists accused of staging a slew of actions at art museums across Europe.

Per police statements, the 22 individuals arrested were linked to 65 climate demonstrations, including halting traffic and flinging paint and other viscous substances at federal property. A police spokesman told the AFP that the suspects belong to Spanish activist group Futuro Vegetal, who in November 2022 made headlines when two of its members glued their hands to the frames of two paintings by Francisco Goya at Madrid’s Prado Museum.

The Prado protest did not result in lasting damage to the 18th century works—The Naked Maja and The Clothed Maja—but the protestors defaced the wall between the two paintings with “+1.5°C,” a reference to the Paris Agreement goal of keeping global temperature rise below 1.5 degrees Celsius.

In recent years, environmental activists have staged increasingly brazen stunts at art museums worldwide in a bid to bring attention to the climate crisis. This June, two protestors were arrested in Stockholm after they splashed “some kind of paint” at the Claude Monet painting The Artist’s Garden at Giverny, and then glued themselves to its frame, Sweden’s National Museum reported. The previous October, members of the British group Just Stop Oil flung tomato soup at Vincent van Gogh’s Sunflowers in London’s National Gallery in October.

Police said the 22 Futuro Vegetal activists established a “criminal structure” and had caused more than half a million euros in damages. According to a statement from the group posted on X, the arrests were made in December. Police also reported that the group had collected more than 140,000 euros in donations from international supporters.

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