(USNewsMag.com) – Two climate activists who are members of the Declare Emergency climate group were indicted May 26 for allegedly smearing paint on a case containing the sculpture, “Little Dancer Aged Fourteen” by Edgar Degas.
The two activists, Joanna Smith, 53, and Timothy Martin, 53, were indicted on charges of injury to exhibit at the National Gallery of Art as well as committing an offense against the United States. They surrendered to authorities. Other co-conspirators from the climate group were not indicted. If convicted, they face up to 5 years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000.
According to the indictment, the members of the group went to the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., April 27 to intentionally cause damage to the priceless, 143-year-old artwork sculpted by the late 19th-century French artist.
Martin and Smith allegedly used water bottles to smuggle the paint into the museum. Once inside, they allegedly smeared the paint along the floor, the base, and on the case containing the sculpture, an act which was filmed on the phones of the co-conspirators. The climate group had notified reporters at the Washington Post who also took photos.
Smith painted what appeared to be a tree on fire, and Martin painted a house as well as a cloud. The two were then pictured sitting in front of the sculpture, cross-legged, with their hands covered in paint.
After they vandalized the sculpture, Declare Emergency tweeted that they did this to send a message about climate change. The group stated it understands art is important but wants to draw attention to climate change in a nonviolent way.
The sculpture, “Little Dancer Aged Fourteen,” had to be removed from the museum for 10 days to undergo repairs after the sculpture had $2,400 in damages due to the events.
The incident is under investigation by the FBI’s Art Crime Team, as well as both the National Gallery of Art Police and the U.S. Park Police.
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