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Just Stop Oil opens door to more extreme protests, including ‘slashing’ famous artwork

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Just Stop Oil, the British climate group that has staged protests defacing famous paintings and blocking busy city streets, said it was considering taking more extreme measures to protest new fossil fuel development.

In a blog post Wednesday, the group said it was obliged to escalate its actions because climate change posed such a large threat to humanity and future generations. While the group pushed back on media reports that it would soon begin slashing famous paintings, it said such actions could be taken in the future.

‘What is a proportionate response to the knowledge that the government is knowingly planning to cut short your life by decades?,’ the group wrote.

‘That by encouraging new oil and gas they have condemned you to a future of fighting for a few miserable scraps of food to feed your starving children — assuming you feel brave enough to have children? How do young people even begin to process that gut-wrenching conclusion?’

The Just Stop Oil blog post then compared the group to civil rights and women’s rights activists of the 20th century. The group said its ‘nonviolent and accountable ethos’ meant it would continue challenging the morality of existing social systems and reiterated its belief that more oil and gas drilling would harm billions of people.

‘So yes, if no action is taken to end new oil and gas, ordinary people might actively consider slashing paintings as the Suffragettes did and yes, if the government does not address our demand for no new oil, we will consider escalating our actions,’ the group’s post added. ‘It’s what the Suffragettes did, it’s what the Civil Rights movements did, it’s what everyone does when the inalienable right to life and a livelihood are violated.

‘We are engaged in nonviolent civil resistance. For now that means slowly marching around the streets of London, calling on ordinary people to take their first steps to help block and disable the cogs of the machine,’ it continued. ‘This is not a ‘tactic’ — it is an act of self respect, an act of solidarity, an act of love and necessity.’

The group’s extreme tactics have garnered widespread international attention. 

In October, activists with the group were arrested after they smashed cake on a wax figure of King Charles III at a museum in London. Weeks earlier, other members of the group poured tomato soup on a Vincent van Gogh painting worth millions of dollars located at another museum. The group’s actions have also included members gluing themselves to famous artwork.

Just Stop Oil has also organized actions blocking traffic in various city streets. In one case, activists blocked a busy road in London, forcing an ambulance and fire engine to take an alternative route.

The organization is part of the so-called A22 Network that is largely funded by California-based Climate Emergency Fund (CEF). The CEF’s founding donor is Aileen Getty, the granddaughter of the Getty Oil founder.

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