Two Elderly Just Stop Oil Activists Break Glass Protecting Magna Carta


Two Elderly Just Stop Oil Activists Break Glass Protecting Magna Carta

On Friday, May 10, two activists part of the climate group Just Stop Oil broke the glass protecting an original copy of the Magna Carta at the British Library in London. Reverend Dr. Sue Parfitt and Judy Bruce, both in their 80s, were recorded in a social media video working in unison as they used a lump hammer to crack the display encasing the 13th century manuscript, which was not damaged during the protest. As they cracked the glass, Parfitt unfurled a white banner with the statement: “THE GOVERNMENT IS BREAKING THE LAW.”

Fearing a civil war, the Magna Carta was enacted by English monarch King John on June 15, 1215, outlining that no one was above the law, even those of royalty. In addition to the two copies stored at the British Library, several more originals exist at Lincoln Castle and Salisbury Cathedral.

“Clause 39 of the Magna Carta is one of four clauses still enshrined in UK common law, a so-called ‘golden passage’, that states: ‘No free man is to be arrested, or imprisoned, or in any other way ruined, except by the lawful judgement of his peers or by the law of the land,” wrote Just Stop Oil via Instagram. “Contrast that with civil law as it stands in 2024, where corporations are buying private laws in the form of injunctions that circumvent the people’s rights to a trial by jury for speaking out against the crimes of oil companies.”

While Parfitt reveres the Magna Carta as one of the earliest recorded documents of human rights, “there will be no freedom, no lawfulness, no rights, if we allow climate breakdown to become the catastrophe that is now threatened,” she said in a statement. Both Parfitt and Bruce were immediately detained by security following the protest and now face a June 20 court hearing for criminal damage.

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