Just Stop Oil eco zealots risk ten years in prison after targeting Van Gogh’s Peach Trees In Blossom

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Just Stop Oil protestors have risked ten years in prison after they glued themselves to the frame of Vincent Van Gogh’s Peach Trees In Blossom painting in the group’s latest stunt. 

Two climate activists attached themselves to the iconic 19th-century painting at the Courtauld Gallery in London on Thursday – as they called for the government to end new oil and gas extraction. 

Louis McKechnie, who was named as one of the demonstrators, is an eco-zealot who strapped himself to a goalpost during the Everton versus Newcastle football match back in March.

The 21-year-old stormed the pitch half way through the Premier League bout and zip-tied himself to the woodwork wearing a bright orange t-shirt saying: ‘Just stop oil.’

McKechnie halted play for seven minutes before the stadium’s staff prised him free with a huge pair of bolt cutters and hauled him off the pitch where he was arrested.

The stunt comes just a day after protestors glued themselves to Horatio McCulloch’s My Heart Is In The Highlands 19th-century painting in Kelvingrove Art Gallery and spray-painted their logo on the walls and floor of the building.

Five protestors were arrested and are expected to appear at the Glasgow Sheriff’s Court.

Just Stop Oil protestors have risked ten years in prison after they glued themselves to the frame of Vincent Van Gogh’s Peach Trees In Blossom painting in the group’s latest stunt.

Louis McKechnie, who was named as one of the demonstrators, is an eco-zealot who strapped himself to a goalpost during the Everton versus Newcastle football match back in March

Louis McKechnie, who was named as one of the demonstrators, is an eco-zealot who strapped himself to a goalpost during the Everton versus Newcastle football match back in March

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The mechanical engineering student was one of nine demonstrators hauled to the High Court for breaking a government injunction

The mechanical engineering student was one of nine demonstrators hauled to the High Court for breaking a government injunction

Despite his age, McKechnie is a seasoned disruptor who has caused havoc in recent months with Insulate Britain’s protests on major UK roads.

The mechanical engineering student was one of nine demonstrators hauled to the High Court for breaking a government injunction stopping the thugs gluing themselves to carriageways including the M25 last year.

The lout was locked up for three months in HMP Thameside, but on his release after half that time he boasted how he had been ‘terrified’ but was welcomed by other lags who he claimed were ‘entertained’ by his protests.

He told LBC in January: ‘My experience of prison has emboldened me to take any future action regardless of whether prison is a consequence.’

McKechnie halted play for seven minutes before the stadium's staff prised him free with a huge pair of bolt cutters and hauled him off the pitch where he was arrested

McKechnie halted play for seven minutes before the stadium’s staff prised him free with a huge pair of bolt cutters and hauled him off the pitch where he was arrested

He continued: ‘I feel that if we were able to save these 8,000 to 30,000 lives that are lost every year to fuel poverty, I’d spend the rest of my life in prison for that.’

He added: ‘I see the only way that these protests will stop is when our demands are met. When the Government acts on the climate crisis, acts on fuel poverty and stands up for its own people.’

The latest action comes amid warnings that the Provence region in southeastern France, depicted in Van Gogh’s peach tree painting, may soon be experiencing a drought after rainfall levels were 45 per cent below historic averages.

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Just Stop Oil, which has previously carried out protests at oil terminals and the UK Government offices in Edinburgh, said it is calling for art institutions to join the group in ‘civil resistance’ against climate change. 

Two climate activists attached themselves to the iconic 19th-century painting at the Courtauld Gallery in London on Thursday - as they called for the government to end new oil and gas extraction

Two climate activists attached themselves to the iconic 19th-century painting at the Courtauld Gallery in London on Thursday – as they called for the government to end new oil and gas extraction

McKechnie, from Weymouth in Dorset, said: ‘As a kid I used to love this painting, my dad took me to see it when we visited London. I still love this painting, but I love my friends and family more, I love nature more. I value the future survival of my generation more highly than my public reputation.

‘The scientists are saying we need to end fossil fuel licensing and the government is pouring sand in their ears. I’m not willing to be marched to my death by the fossil fuel companies and their government puppets.

‘It is immoral for cultural institutions to stand by and watch whilst our society descends into collapse. Galleries should close. Directors of art institutions should be calling on the government to stop all new oil and gas projects immediately. We are either in resistance or we are complicit.’

The second protestor at today’s art gallery was Emily Brocklebank, 24, who is a psychology student from Leeds.

The stunt comes just a day after protestors glued themselves to Horatio McCulloch's My Heart Is In The Highlands 19th-century painting in Kelvingrove Art Gallery and spray-painted their logo on the walls and floor of the building. Pictured: Hannah Torrance Bright, 20, attached to the portrait yesterday

The stunt comes just a day after protestors glued themselves to Horatio McCulloch’s My Heart Is In The Highlands 19th-century painting in Kelvingrove Art Gallery and spray-painted their logo on the walls and floor of the building. Pictured: Hannah Torrance Bright, 20, attached to the portrait yesterday 

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She added: ‘I’m taking action today because I can’t live in a bubble of normality when society is collapsing around us and people in the global south are suffering so much. 

‘Billionaires are getting richer whilst nurses queue at food banks, tens of millions of people across the world are starving and half the world’s population is exposed to extreme danger from heatwaves, floods, fires and famine. Meanwhile the art establishment, the politicians and the fossil fuel companies look the other way.

‘I love art, everywhere I go I visit all the galleries. Art is so important, it captures history and a moment in time, but artists and the art establishment are failing us by focusing on the wrong things. We need everyone to focus on the government’s genocidal plans to allow fossil fuel companies to drill for more oil. This is one of the greatest injustices in history. We must resist.’

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