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Stonehenge sprayed with orange paint by Just Stop Oil activists demanding U.K. "phase out fossil fuels"

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London — Environmental activists sprayed several of the ancient stones of Britain's iconic Stonehenge site with an orange substance Wednesday, demanding that the next U.K. government — set to be chosen in a national election on July 5 — "sign up to a legally binding treaty to phase out fossil fuels by 2030," the protest group Just Stop Oil said.

A video released by the group showed two activists running toward the prehistoric stones of the UNESCO World Heritage Site with what looked like fire extinguishers and then spraying them with what the group said was "orange paint powder." 

Just Stop Oil said the activists had "decorated" the stones to call attention to the British government's "failure to commit to defending our communities."

Bystanders intervened to try to stop the activists, and the Wiltshire Police later said two people had been arrested, "on suspicion of damaging the ancient monument."

"Just Stop Oil supporters, along with citizens from Austria, Canada, Norway, the Netherlands and Switzerland will join in resistance this summer, if their own Governments do not take meaningful action," a spokesperson for the group said in a statement. 

The organization that manages the Stonehenge site, English Heritage, told CBS News the incident was "extremely upsetting and our curators are investigating the extent of the damage," but that the monument remained open to the public.

The protest came one day before the summer solstice, the longest day of the year, when crowds traditionally gather at Stonehenge to celebrate and watch the rising sun appear through the ancient stones.

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, the Conservative party incumbent who opinion polls show far behind his chief rival just weeks before the election, issued a short response to the protest Wednesday, calling Just Stop Oil "a disgrace."  

As the country's leader, Sunak has pushed back plans to impose a ban on the sale of new gasoline-powered vehicles from 2030 to 2035, and pledged that if he's reelected, he will impose no new energy efficiency rules on landlords or homeowners in the U.K.

"Stonehenge at solstice is all about celebrating the natural world — but look at the state it's in! We all have a right to live a life free from suffering, but continued burning of oil, coal and gas is leading to death and suffering on an unparalleled scale," Just Stop Oil said. "It's time for us to think about what our civilization will leave behind — what is our legacy? Standing inert for generations works well for stones — not climate policy."

The group has staged a series of protests over the last year, spraying famous works of art with a similar orange substance and even blocking traffic on the major M-25 highway that circles London.

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