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Activists Arrested, Spray Painted Planes at Taylor Swift Airfield

Activists Arrested, Spray Painted Planes at Taylor Swift Airfield

Two environmental activists have been arrested after they broke into a private airfield outside of London, where Taylor Swift‘s plane landed hours earlier, and spray-painted multiple private jets orange, in a call to end the use of fossil fuels by the end of the decade. 

Just Stop Oil members Jennifer Kowalski, 28, and Cole Macdonald, 22, cut a metal fence surrounding the private airfield in Stansted at 5 a.m. local time on Thursday then targeted the planes, using an orange paint similar to that seen in the group’s protest campaign at Stonehenge, Britain’s prehistoric landmark, on Wednesday. Just Stop Oil said the paint is cornflower and will wash off. 

Kowalski and Macdonald were arrested afterward, police in Essex county told The Guardian in a statement: “Officers were on the scene within minutes and detained two people. The airport and flights are operating as normal. A 22-year-old woman from Brighton and a 28-year-old woman from Dumbarton have been arrested on suspicion of criminal damage and interference with the use or operation of national infrastructure.”

Just Stop Oil is a coalition of groups working together to demand that the U.K. government work with other nations to agree to stop the extraction and burning of oil, gas and coal by 2030. It posted a video of the protest action on social media platform X (formerly known as Twitter), noting that Swift’s jet, a recent subject of controversy, had landed there earlier in the day. 

“JUST STOP OIL PAINT PRIVATE JETS HOURS AFTER TAYLOR SWIFT’S LANDS Jennifer and Cole cut the fence into the private airfield at Stansted where @taylorswift13’s jet is parked, demanding an emergency treaty to end fossil fuels by 2030,” the group wrote on the platform.

It is unclear if Swift’s jet was the group’s target. However, a post on the group’s website referenced Swift’s “Cruel Summer” and alluded to the superstar’s “Blank Space,” suggesting that Just Stop Oil was aware of Swift’s jet’s presence at the time of the break-in. The Hollywood Reporter contacted the group to clarify the intentions at the Stanstead break-in but did not immediately hear back on Thursday.

“We’re living in two worlds: one where billionaires live in luxury, able to fly in private jets away from the other, where unlivable conditions are being imposed on countless millions,” MacDonald said in the article posted on the group’s website Thursday morning. “Meanwhile, this system that is allowing extreme wealth to be accrued by a few, to the detriment of everyone else, is destroying the conditions necessary to support human life in a rapidly accelerating never-ending ‘cruel summer’. Billionaires are not untouchable, climate breakdown will affect every single one of us.”

Swift’s team previously sent a cease-and-desist letter to the owner of social media accounts that documented tracked her private jet travel. A 2022 study from marketing firm Yard found that Swift was the top celebrity “offender” in terms of carbon dioxide emissions, with 170 flights by that point emitting 9,142 tons of carbon dioxide.

In response, a rep for Swift said in a statement that her plane “is loaned out regularly to other individuals. To attribute most or all of these trips to her is blatantly incorrect.”

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Additionally, a rep for Swift told THR when the cease-and-desist letter was sent that before her Eras tour, which Swift is currently taking through the UK, began, “Taylor purchased more than double the carbon credits needed to offset all of her travel, which includes the tour.”

On Wednesday, two Just Stop Oil activists were seen in a video using fire extinguishers to spray paint Stonehenge. The group wrote of the direct action event: “The Just Stop Oil protestors demanded the incoming government sign up to a legally binding treaty to phase out fossil fuels by 2030.”

In a statement to CNN, English Heritage chief executive Nick Merriman said there was no immediate damage to the monument, which will be open for summer solstice celebrations this week. 

“There appears to be no visible damage but that’s in no way saying there hasn’t been harm, from the very act of having to clean the stones to the distress caused to those for whom Stonehenge holds a spiritual significance.” 

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