The FBI is investigating the climate change alarmists with the group Declare Emergency who defaced the protective box around Edgar Degas’ “Little Dancer Aged Fourteen” statue at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., on Thursday morning.
“The Federal Bureau of Investigation is assisting in the investigation, which is still active,” said Kaywin Feldman, director of the National Gallery of Art.
Museum security guards detained the two Declare Emergency protesters.
The extremists covered their hands in red and black tempura paint to mimic oil and blood, painted the box, and sat down in front of the statue, which dates to circa 1880. Joanna Smith, one of the demonstrators, gave a speech in the gallery explaining her “peaceful yet unsettling civil disobedience,” before police detained the two.
The vandalism was part of Declare Emergency’s April Week of Action from Earth Day on April 22 to April 27. Demonstrations included marches, distribution of flyers, and roadblocks.
“We unequivocally denounce this physical attack on one of our works of art and will continue to share information as it becomes available,” Feldman said.
Zepeda said the demonstrations are a “conveyance of the desperation we feel” about the climate and fossil fuels.
“The piece ‘Little Dancer’ is a much-beloved figure,” Zepeda said. “It is one that is protected in this glass and secure environment. We understand that we need to protect our culture and our heritage, and that’s great, but at the same time, we are also leaving the rest of us in this unprotected territory, because we let the climate emergency get as far as it has.”
The gallery of the museum that houses the “Little Dancer” is now closed temporarily.
“The work was displayed in a plexiglass case and has been taken off view so that our expert conservation team can assess potential damage to it,” Feldman said. “Gallery 3, where ‘Little Dancer’ was on display, and several connecting galleries on the ground floor of the West Building are closed until further notice.”
Smith called on Biden to “marshal all necessary resources towards a just transition via an Executive Declaration of Climate Emergency” after defacing the statue’s protective box.
“Today, in nonviolent rebellion, we have temporarily sullied a piece of art to evoke the real children whose suffering is guaranteed if the death-cult fossil fuel companies keep removing new coal, oil, and gas from the ground,” Smith said. “As a parent, I cannot abide this future.”
Fossil fuel emissions are getting worse, Zepeda claimed, so Americans must act.
“We need to make big changes soon, because every 10th of a degree matters,” he said. “We need the president to declare a climate emergency and help convey to the public how bad it is, and we need to be the ones to help convey that as well.”
Zepeda said climate activists should live like we only have two to three more years of life on earth as we know it.
“By acting as if it’s an emergency, it means more than signing a petition or just going to a march or a rally,” he said, calling for actions that engage the public, the government, and the media, reminiscent of the civil rights movement.
Since Declare Emergency launched in 2021, demonstrators have been arrested about 60 times, Zepeda said.
“It shows that we’re willing to sacrifice, that it’s so bad that we are willing to deal with legal outcomes and the legal system,” he said. “It conveys like it’s so bad that we’re willing to take these risks.”
Zepeda has spent more than three months in jail as punishment for disturbances created by his climate activism. Another Declare Emergency member spent 20 days in jail for blocking a highway.
“We can’t just be normal about this. We can’t just be OK with it,” he said about the supposed climate emergency. “And that’s a really powerful and effective way to send that message.”
Zepeda said he did not enjoy his time in jail.
“It’s been similar to just how, probably how, a lot of people feel that they’re in jail,” he said. “Regardless of their reason for being in jail, it’s not fun. I don’t like it. I’m really glad I’m out. I appreciate being out, but I love and respect anyone willing to risk as much as I did or more.”
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