Activists That Threw Red Powder On The United States Constitution Are Faced With Felony Charges

Source: News2Share/Ford Fischer

Felony charges have been placed against two climate activists after throwing red powder on the display case that contains the United States Constitution. Last month during the protest two activists came into the National Archives and poured the powder over the display, they were subsequently arrested.The Justice Department has now released information about what charges these two protestors will be facing.

Felony Charges Against Activists

Per a newly unsealed indictment in the District Court, two people are being charged with felonies for the incident of pouring red powder on the case of the U.S. Constitution at the National Archives.

Source: Unsplash/Markus Spiske

The two being held accountable for these actions are Donald Zepeda, 35, and Jackson Green, 27, the official charges are felony destruction of government property. The Department of Justice has stated if the damages incur a total that exceeds $100 the defendants may be liable for fines that could be as much as $250,000. They could also be looking at a ten year prison term. They could also face up to ten years of imprisonment.

What They Did Exactly

Two activists poured an unknown substance that looked like red powder all over the top of the display case of the United States Constitution In February 2024. After this took place, the National Archives building swiftly shut down as employees worked to clean up the mess.

Source: Wikimedia Commons/Carol M. Highsmith

Following this incident, all of the National Archives buildings and galleries were evacuated. The protestors, who had also doused themselves in the red powder, were apprehended by D.C. police after they arrived at the scene.

Protest For Climate Change

It has been reported that these two activists were protesting climate change and, apparently, in their perspective, the government’s lack of action contributes to the failure to keep natural resources clean.

Source: Unsplash/Markus Spiske

A video was posted on the platform formerly known as Twitter, now known as X, where the two men can be seen doused in the red powder talking as they stand in front of the Constitution. One of them made this statement “We all deserve clean air, water, food and a livable climate.”

How Much It Cost To Clean The Powder Up

Conservationists came in to clean up the Constitution case shortly after the protestors were arrested and the National Archives were evacuated.

Source: Wikimedia Commons/Kelvin Kay

The cost to clean up this mess has already reached a total of $50,000. It has taken workers a great deal of time to clean up the unknown red powder substance, which is only adding to the clean up cost.

Carefully Cleaning

Because they were unaware of what the substance consisted of exactly, the conservationists were concerned about using any liquids, even water, for clean up efforts. To ensure the safety of employees and keep the integrity of the display they decided to refrain from using any liquid substance for the clean up.

Source: Adobe Stock/aumnat

The powder was successful at getting into all the little nooks and crannies of the display, but luckily was not successful at “penetrating the casing” or going through to the U.S. Constitution.

A Shift In Climate Protesting

The vandalization of art or nation documents during protest is nothing new. In 1914, a suffragist in London used a meat cleaver to defile a canvas painting during a protest for the arrest of another suffragist.

Source: Unsplash/Artur Matosyan

In this day and age attempting to vandalize art has become a popular choice for protestors of climate change all over the world. This is obviously a very controversial act for most.

Rotunda Remained Closed

The rotunda remained closed for four days while the staff worked tirelessly to carefully clean up the mess. Employees quickly realized that the powder consisted of red pigment and cornstarch, a very fine substance, which made it impossible for an industrial vacuum to pick up.

Source: Wikimedia Commons/Edbrown05

This meant that the employees had to work “on their hands and knees until midnight,” attempting to get it all cleaned up.

Environmental Activists in Italy

Right around the time of the red powder attack at the National Archives, two environmental activists in Florence, Italy carried out an attack on images of Tuscany’s recent flood damage to Botticelli’s “The Birth of Venus.”

Source: Top Ten Plus/Zain

The protestors were quickly apprehended and the photos were swiftly removed from their display case, luckily this incident proved to be far less destructive than the red powder attack. It only took 15 minutes to reopen the room to the public.

An Increasing Trend

Over the last few years climate activists have gone after museums around the world. The “Mona Lisa” has been a main target, though the strength of the glass surrounding it has managed to keep it from acquiring any damage.

Source: Unsplash/Rumman Amin

Two activists threw mashed potatoes at “Les Meules,” a Claude Monet work located in Germany in 2022. Other related incidents have been documented in London, Rome, and The Hague, and now the D.C. incident.

Targeting The Mona Lisa

In January 2024 climate protestors threw soup at the “Mona Lisa” painting at the Louvre in an attempt to bring attention to their cause. The two female protestors yelled, “What’s the most important thing? Art, or right to a healthy and sustainable food?”

Source: Unsplash/Eric TERRADE

They were quickly arrested after throwing the soup at the painting. Thankfully no harm came to the timeless piece of art, and it remains on display in its case for people to view.

Statement From The National Archives

Following the red powder attack, the National Archives released a statement that condemned this vandalism.

Source: National Archives Museum

The statement said “The National Archives Rotunda is the sanctuary for our nation’s founding documents. They are here for all Americans to view and understand the principles of our nation. We take such vandalism very seriously and we will insist that the perpetrators be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”

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Mary Scrantin

Written by Mary Scrantin

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