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18 July, 2024
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Protesters paint Stonehenge, Taylor Swift jet not present at airport

Stonehenge restored after orange paint removed


Environmental activists from the group Just Stop Oil have sparked widespread condemnation after a series of disruptive protests within 24 hours. The group first targeted Stonehenge, spraying orange powder on the historic monument on Wednesday, just before summer solstice celebrations. The act led to the arrest of two protesters, Niamh Lynch, 21, and Rajan Naidu, 73, on suspicion of damaging the ancient site.

Video footage circulating on social media captured the activists in action, prompting swift intervention from members of the public and law enforcement. "You dirty scum. This is a temple, not a publicity stunt!" shouted one bystander as police led the offenders away.

English Heritage, responsible for Stonehenge's upkeep, quickly responded, using air blowers to remove the cornflour-based powder and safeguarding the monument's rare lichens. Despite initial concerns, Dr. Nick Merriman of English Heritage reported "no visible damage" to the 5,000-year-old stones, allowing preparations for the scheduled solstice celebrations to proceed.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer were among those condemning the vandalism, with Sunak describing it as "a disgraceful act" and Starmer criticizing the activists as "pathetic."

Less than a day later, Just Stop Oil activists struck again, this time at London's Stansted Airport. Jennifer Kowalski, 28, and Cole Macdonald, 22, breached the airfield's security in the early hours of the morning, targeting multiple private jets with fire extinguishers filled with orange paint. The group falsely claimed popstar Taylor Swift's jet was among those sprayed.

Essex Police swiftly apprehended Kowalski and Macdonald on charges of criminal damage and interference with national infrastructure. The incidents mark the latest in a series of high-profile protests by Just Stop Oil, aimed at pressuring the UK government to end fossil fuel extraction and burning by 2030.

Critics argue that while the group's actions aim to raise awareness about climate change, they risk damaging cultural heritage and provoking public backlash. Despite this, Just Stop Oil remains undeterred, continuing to stage disruptive demonstrations across the UK.

As cleanup efforts at both Stonehenge and Stansted Airport conclude, authorities and heritage officials are left balancing the preservation of cultural landmarks with the challenges posed by impassioned environmental activism.

[Information sourced from BBC, Daily Mail, Reuters]

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