A judge said she sentenced two Belgian climate change activists who glued themselves to a well-known painting in the Netherlands to a lighter sentence than the public prosecutor requested because she did not want to discourage others from demonstrating by imposing a harsher punishment, according to Reuters.
On Wednesday, the two individuals received sentences of two months, with one suspended, meaning the vandalists will serve only one month behind bars. The sentencing came just one week after one man glued his head to the Johannes Vermeer painting “Girl with a Pearl Earring” at the Mauritshuis Museum in The Hague.
— Steven Bakker (@Kolpen) October 27, 2022
One person glued his head to the painting as the other man poured tomato soup over his head. The second man glued his hand to the wall mounting while wearing a “Just Stop Oil” T-shirt. A third person recorded the incident.
“How do you feel when you see something beautiful and priceless being apparently destroyed before your eyes?” one of the men asked onlookers. “Do you feel outraged? Good. Where is that feeling when you see the planet being destroyed before our very eyes?”
The prosecutor requested a four-month sentence, according to court reports. However, the judge said that she did not want to discourage other people from demonstrating, Reuters reported.
The third activist did not agree to the fast-tracked trial and is scheduled to appear in court on Friday.
The museum released a statement after the incident that said the artwork was kept behind protective glass and had not been damaged.
“Art is defenceless and the Mauritshuis strongly rejects trying to damage it for whatever purpose,” the statement read.
In a press release regarding the sentencing, the Netherlands Public Prosecution Service noted that the 19th-century frame around the painting had been damaged during the protest.The attack was led by supporters from a group called Just Stop Oil Belgium.
Related groups have led protests throughout Europe in recent weeks. A U.K.-based Just Stop Oil group recently completed 32 days of civil resistance that have included several acts of vandalism.
On Tuesday, day 32 of its efforts, some supporters attempted to scale the gates of Downing Street in London to demand that the government stops all new oil and gas licenses. The same day, a group of its supporters sat down in the street with banners to block the roadway, including some people who glued themselves to the road.
The previous day, the group vandalized locations across London by spray painting various areas with orange paint from fire extinguishers. The buildings included the British Home Office, the MI5 building, the Bank of England, and the headquarters of News Corp. The four buildings were targeted as representing the alleged pillars of the fossil fuel economy that include government, security, finance, and media, according to the organization.
In October, climate protesters also attacked Vincent Van Gogh’s famous “Sunflowers” painting at the National Gallery in London, throwing soup on it. The painting is valued at more than $84 million but was reportedly undamaged due to being kept behind a protective covering.
— Ro Carey (@RonanCareless) October 14, 2022
In a similar incident, climate activists threw mashed potatoes at a Claude Monet painting in Germany.