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Demonstrators Take Aim at the Mona Lisa, Using Soup to Make a Statement. Here’s the Motivation.

Protesters Just Targeted the Mona Lisa by Throwing Soup at the Masterpiece. Here’s Why

On Sunday, two environmental activists carried out a disruptive protest at the Louvre Museum in Paris, targeting Leonardo da Vinci’s iconic Mona Lisa painting. The individuals affiliated with the civil resistance climate activist group Riposte Alimentaire threw soup on the famous artwork in a demonstration advocating for sustainable food practices and improved social security.

Bypassing the protective glass barrier surrounding the painting, the activists unveiled t-shirts displaying the group’s name, Riposte Alimentaire, meaning “food response.” They raised one hand each in a symbolic gesture that resembled taking an oath, passionately calling for “healthy and sustainable” food. Museum staff swiftly intervened, deploying black shields to shield the scene, while onlookers expressed their dismay.

Demonstrators Take Aim at the Mona Lisa, Using Soup to Make a Statement. Here's the Motivation.

Demonstrators Take Aim at the Mona Lisa, Using Soup to Make a Statement. Here’s the Motivation. (Credits: NBC News)

According to Paris police, two arrests were made in connection with the incident. The group behind the protest, Riposte Alimentaire, took responsibility for the action through social media, identifying the activists as a 24-year-old and a 63-year-old. The organization is part of the larger Europe-wide A22 network, which also includes the U.K.-based climate activist group Just Stop Oil.

Emphasizing their commitment to preventing societal collapse, Riposte Alimentaire underscored social, economic, and environmental issues associated with the global food system. The group drew attention to food insecurity in France, referencing a report indicating that 38% of Europeans no longer consume three meals a day.

The organization highlighted the challenges faced by farmers, citing financial pressures leading to suicides. Currently, French farmers are engaged in nationwide protests, demanding improved pay and living conditions from the government.

In response to the issues raised, Riposte Alimentaire proposed addressing serious food insecurity by integrating food into the social security safety net. The group called for the allocation of a monthly card, topped up with 150 euros ($162), for residents to purchase “democratically selected” pre-approved products.

This protest aligns with a series of attention-grabbing actions by climate activists across Europe. In a similar incident in 2022, Just Stop Oil protesters threw tomato soup at Van Gogh’s Sunflowers painting in the National Gallery in London.

The group has also disrupted a West End musical performance, vandalized King Charles III’s Madame Tussauds wax figure, and blocked roads during protests, all aimed at urging the U.K. government to cease investments in new gas, oil, and coal projects.

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