On May 24, 2023, the US District Court for the District of Columbia issued a Grand Jury indictment against two members of the American eco-extremist group “Declare Emergency.”
Timothy Martin and Joanna Smith, both 53, were charged with “willfully” committing “an offense against the United States,” by injuring an object of art and an exhibit “within the National Gallery of Art.”
The “object of art” referred to is Edgar Degas’ sculpture, Little Dancer Aged Fourteen. I detailed the scandalous attack by Declare Emergency in my April 28, 2023 essay Eco-Vandals Attack Degas Statue.
On May 26, 2023, the US Department of Justice followed up with a Press Release that provided more details on the indictment. The statement confirmed that Martin and Smith were charged with “conspiracy to commit an offense against the United States and injury to a National Gallery of Art exhibit,” and that the two had surrendered themselves to the authorities.
I should remind readers that an indictment is a listing of charges that does not imply guilt. The defendants are now in custody and will be tried in a court of law.
To my knowledge this is the first such indictment of its kind that has been issued against the eco-fanatics that have been waging a war on art in the US, Europe, and Australia. If found guilty, Martin and Smith could face a “maximum sentence of five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.”
I’ll just say this, I won’t be opening a Go Fund Me account to raise money for the defense of the eco-vandals.
I found the core description of charges as elucidated by the Justice Department, to be succinct and quite interesting. In part it reads:
“The indictment further alleges that Martin and Smith agreed, along with other currently uncharged co-conspirators, to enter the National Gallery of Art for the purpose of injuring the exhibit. Martin and Smith entered the National Gallery of Art armed with plastic water bottles filled with paint.
Martin and Smith handed their phones to other conspirators and waited until patrons cleared the area in front of the Little Dancer. Martin and Smith proceeded to smear paint on the case and base of the exhibit, at times smacking the case with force.
Prior to the attack, members of the conspiracy had alerted the Washington Post, and two reporters from the Post recorded and photographed the offense. Additionally, other members of the conspiracy filmed and photographed the offense. Smith and Martin caused approximately $2,400 in damage and the exhibit was removed from public display for ten days so that it could be repaired.”
The first thing I noticed was the Justice Department referring to “other currently uncharged co-conspirators,” which sounds as though further arrests might occur in the near future. But my primary focus was on the passage: “Prior to the attack, members of the conspiracy had alerted the Washington Post, and two reporters from the Post recorded and photographed the offense.”
Well, well, well. That is not how the Washington Post reported on the matter. In their May 26, 2023 article Climate protesters indicted for smearing paint around case of Degas statue, the liberal daily stated:
“The indictment also accuses Martin and Smith of working with unknown co-conspirators to carry out a plan, which included researching ‘potential targets’ in the National Gallery of Art, telling ‘at least one member of the media’ about their plans, and documenting Smith and Martin smearing paint.”
The proper use of quotation marks designate a direct quote—written or spoken.
While the sentence “at least one member of the media” appeared on page 2 of the original District of Columbia indictment, it appears the Washington Post chose to ignore the US Justice Department’s clarifying statement that “Prior to the attack, members of the conspiracy had alerted the Washington Post, and two reporters from the Post recorded and photographed the offense.”
I wonder. If the vandals “alerted” the Washington Post of the impending action, and the daily sent two reporters to cover the vandalism rather than report the imminent hooliganism to authorities… does that make the Washington Post a “member of the conspiracy”? Democracy Dies in Darkness indeed.
Even more absurd was the coverage of the indictment by the ABC News website. Under the headline Feds charge climate protesters for allegedly defacing Edgar Degas exhibit at National Gallery of Art, readers find a photo of Martin and Smith sitting beneath the red and black paint smeared case housing Degas’ Little Dancer statue, their hands dripping red and black paint.
The word “allegedly” seems a stretch when viewing the “cat ate the canary” type of photo. Video also exists of the vandalism as it’s committed by Martin and Smith.
Regardless, the charge against Martin and Smith is not vandalism, but whether or not they committed an offense against the United States by ransacking an exhibit held in the nation’s premiere art museum.
And folks wonder why so few people trust the mass media.