Senior Activists Damage Magna Carta Display In Climate Protest

 May 10, 2024

In a dramatic protest at the British Library in London, two elderly environmental campaigners caused a stir by damaging the protective casing of the Magna Carta.

An 82-year-old priest and an 85-year-old retired teacher were involved in an environmental protest where they damaged a display case holding a copy of the Magna Carta.

According to CBS News, the incident, captured in a video posted online, shows Reverend Sue Parfitt and Judy Bruce, members of Just Stop Oil, gluing themselves to the exhibit.

Rev. Sue Parfitt, an 82-year-old clergyman, and Judy Bruce, an 85-year-old retired biology teacher, engaged in this deliberate act of vandalism to highlight urgent climate change concerns.

The Event And Its Immediate Impact

This bold move took place in the library’s Treasures Gallery, where the Magna Carta—a seminal artifact in the history of Western democracy—is conserved under high security. Fortunately, despite the attackers’ efforts, the document itself remained untouched, safeguarded by its reinforced glass case.

Minor scratches and cracks were reported on the case. For the safety of its exhibits and visitors, the library had to close the gallery temporarily.

Before damaging the case, Rev. Sue Parfitt and Judy Bruce displayed a banner that read, “The government is breaking the law.” This duo then proceeded to adhere themselves to the object, further complicating their apprehension and the eventual response by security personnel.

Rev. Parfitt shared her rationale behind targeting such a revered symbol:

The Magna Carta is rightly revered, being of great importance to our history, to our freedoms and to our laws. But there will be no freedom, no lawfulness, no rights, if we allow climate breakdown to become the catastrophe that is now threatened.

Just Stop Oil's Ongoing Campaign

The incident at the British Library is not isolated. It's part of a recurring pattern initiated by the activist group Just Stop Oil, which focuses on significant cultural and historical items to voice its plea against fossil fuels. These types of activities began earlier this year when fellow activists threw soup at the Mona Lisa in Paris’ Louvre Museum.

The London Metropolitan Police quickly acted, arresting Sue Parfitt and Judy Bruce. Their protest is just the latest in a growing lineup of high-profile demonstrations. The chosen method and target of this protest were no accidents. In targeting the Magna Carta, the activists hoped to draw a parallel to the desperation of our environmental predicament.

Museum Security and Public Reaction

Following this incident, the British Library is reviewing its security arrangements. Two elderly individuals' breach of security has raised questions about the balance between accessibility and the protection of priceless artifacts.

Public reactions have been mixed, with some sympathizing with the cause but lamenting the method and others outright condemning the act as careless and an assault on cultural heritage. The library has yet to announce when the Treasures Gallery will reopen, leaving visitors and historians alike in a state of anticipation.

In conclusion, the incident at the British Library underscores a continuing dialogue about climate change, activism, and the preservation of global heritage. While the original copy of the Magna Carta was left unscathed, the same cannot be said about public discourse surrounding these heroic yet divisive actions.

About Victor Winston

Victor is a freelance writer and researcher who focuses on national politics, geopolitics, and economics.

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