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Just Stop Oil protesters smash frame of Velázquez’s ‘Rokeby Venus’ in London gallery

By Catherine Nicholls and Issy Ronald, CNN

London (CNN) — Two climate activists from the group Just Stop Oil have been arrested after smashing the glass protecting a famous painting in London’s National Gallery on Monday, the city’s Metropolitan Police said.

A video posted to Just Stop Oil’s account on X shows the activists wearing white Just Stop Oil t-shirts and breaking the glass protecting Diego Velázquez’s 17th-century “Rokeby Venus” with orange safety hammers.

The painting is known for having been previously damaged in an act of protest by suffragette Mary Raleigh Richardson in 1914.

The National Gallery said on X that the room was cleared of visitors and police were called after the demonstration took place just before 11 a.m. local time on Monday.

“The painting is now being removed from display so it can be examined by conservators,” the post added.

The Metropolitan Police tweeted: “Two Just Stop Oil activists have been arrested for criminal damage. The glass protecting a painting at the National Gallery has been vandalized.”

A number of Just Stop Oil activists also gathered in Whitehall, the London thoroughfare that runs from Trafalgar Square to the Houses of Parliament, on Monday. The protest group said more than 100 people were marching in the area before the police began to arrest them.

“Within 15 minutes we have arrested at least 40 activists who were slow marching,” the Met posted to X. “Whitehall is now clear. We will provide updates on arrest figures in due course.”

Just Stop Oil has targeted several artworks in recent years, including Vincent van Gogh’s “Sunflowers,” a copy of Leonardo da Vinci’s “The Last Supper,” and Johannes Vermeer’s “Girl with a Pearl Earring.”

The activist group has also disrupted several major sporting events in England this year, including golf’s Open ChampionshipWimbledon, the Ashes cricket test series and the World Snooker Championship, as well as a performance of the musical “Les Misérables.”

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