Two climate activists smashed a part of the glass case protecting the original text of the Magna Carta, England’s historic charter of human rights, in the British Library in London on Friday. The pair, identified as Reverend Dr Sue Parfitt, 82, and Judy Bruce, 85, were detained by security staff. 

In a video posted to social media  by the climate group Just Stop Oil, Parfitt holds a chisel to the glass as Bruce hits the instrument with a lump hammer several times. Parfitt then brandished a banner bearing the words, “THE GOVERNMENT IS BREAKING THE LAW.” The document was not damaged according to a statement from the library.

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The Magna Carta was a 13th century English treaty which established that no person, including monarchs, are above the law. Only four original copies of the treaty exist, two of which are held in the British Library, one in Salisbury Cathedral and the other in Lincoln Castle. 

Just Stop Oil actions have hit cultural institutions across Europe, as its members target famous artworks and world heritage in a bid to bring attention to the ongoing environmental collapse. 

In October 2022, two activists  glued themselves to Johannes Vermeer‘s The Girl with the Pearl Earring at the Mauritshuis museum in The Hague. The following year, arrests were made at London’s National Gallery after  The Toilet of Venusby Diego Velázquez was attacked with what appeared to be emergency rescue hammers. Both paintings were reported as undamaged by their respective stewards. The protests, meanwhile, have remained divisive in the art world and greater museum-going community, though show no sign of abating. 

“As a Christian I am compelled to do all that I can to alleviate the appalling suffering that’s coming down the line and is here already … we must Just Stop Oil,” Parfitt says in the video clip.