Climate activists dump pink powder on case containing US Constitution

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(Reuters) – Two climate-change activists were due to appear in court on Thursday after they were arrested for throwing pink powder on glass cases displaying the U.S. Constitution at the National Archives Museum in Washington, the U.S. attorney’s office said.

The revered founding document, written on four sheets of parchment in 1787, was protected by its display encasement and not damaged, the National Archives said.

Police arrested two men on Wednesday afternoon for what the National Archives called an act of vandalism. The museum’s rotunda was closed for cleaning on Thursday.

Videos posted on social media showed two men stood by the powder-dusted cases in the museum’s grand rotunda with their hands and clothes covered in the pink powder.

Paraphrasing the Constitution, they told onlookers they believed everyone on the planet had a right to clean air and a livable climate, and called on U.S. President Joe Biden to declare a climate emergency, shortly before they were detained by museum security staff.

In recent years, climate activists around the world have targeted revered paintings and other cultural artifacts to draw attention to their cause.

In 2022, an activist threw cake at Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa at the Louvre in Paris; a few months later, two activists splashed the glass case protecting Vincent van Gogh’s Fifteen Sunflowers with tomato soup at London’s National Gallery, causing minor damage to the frame. Other activists have glued themselves to famous artworks.

The National Archives said the rotunda and the display of the Constitution would reopen soon.

“We take such vandalism very seriously and we will insist that the perpetrators be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” Archivist of the United States Colleen Shogan said in a statement.

The Metropolitan Police Department did not respond to questions about the arrests. The two men were due to make an initial court appearance later on Thursday, a spokesperson for the U.S. attorney’s office in Washington said.

(Reporting by Jonathan Allen in New York, Editing by William Maclean)

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