A climate activist with a far-left advocacy group smeared red paint on an exhibit honoring an African American regiment that fought during the Civil War, during a protest at the National Gallery of Art on Tuesday.

The member of Declare Emergency, a group that calls for an immediate end to fossil fuel production and reliance, vandalized a wall in the West Building gallery of the Washington, D.C., museum that houses the Shaw 54th Regiment Memorial, officials told Fox News Digital. Using red paint, the activist wrote, “Honor Them,” and explained President Biden could honor Black Civil War soldiers by declaring a climate emergency.

“We should honor them by carrying on their work,” the activist said in a statement. “So, I say, ‘Joe Biden must declare a climate emergency’ in their honor because the great majority of the people who are being harmed by the climate emergency now and who will be harmed in the future are people who look like the soldiers of the Massachusetts 54th.”

“The 54th fought in the Civil War. In the war being waged on humanity now the effects are coming down first and hardest on the most vulnerable people,” he added. “In this undeclared war, the weapon is greenhouse gasses. Children dying of dehydration and starvation in parts of Africa today are being killed by carbon put into the earth’s atmosphere by oil and gas executives in order to make money.”


The activist was ultimately removed from the gallery by law enforcement minutes after he vandalized the exhibit, according to video of the protest captured by independent filmmaker Ford Fischer of the independent media outlet News2Share.

Additionally, a spokesperson for the National Gallery of Art confirmed he had been arrested and that an investigation into the matter is underway. 


“We can confirm that the person has been arrested, and the incident is being investigated. We can confirm that no works of art were harmed. Our staff is working hard to clean the wall in the hopes of reopening the gallery on Wednesday,” spokesperson Anabeth Guthrie told Fox News Digital in a statement.

Guthrie said the Shaw 54th Regiment Memorial exhibit commemorates Colonel Robert Gould Shaw and the Massachusetts 54th, one of the first Civil War regiments of African Americans enlisted in the North. The exhibit includes a list of the regiment’s soldiers who were killed, wounded, captured, or declared missing following the Battle of Fort Wagner on July 18, 1863.

The climate activist smeared paint on the list commemorating those soldiers.

Tuesday’s protest is the latest in a long line of actions left-wing climate groups have taken in public places around the world. Declare Emergency has particularly focused on protests in Washington, D.C., and has called on the president to declare a climate emergency.

While Biden has focused much of his presidency on combating climate change, he has yet to formally declare it a national emergency. A climate emergency declaration would enable Biden to bypass Congress and take a number of regulatory steps not normally authorized to the White House.

In July 2022, after reports that the president would issue such a declaration, he opted instead to issue executive orders addressing the “climate crisis,” but he stopped short of an emergency declaration.

“This is an emergency — an emergency — and I will look at it that way,” Biden remarked at an event announcing the actions. “I said last week, I’ll say it again, loud and clear. As president, I’ll use my executive powers to combat climate change, the climate crisis, in the absence of congressional action.”

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