Skip to Content

US Constitution encasement vandalized with red powder at National Archives

<i>Obtained by CNN</i><br/>A photograph obtained by CNN shows the aftermath of powder spread across the Constitution encasement.
Obtained by CNN
A photograph obtained by CNN shows the aftermath of powder spread across the Constitution encasement.

By Angela Fritz, CNN

(CNN) — The National Archives in Washington, DC, closed early on Wednesday after two people dumped red powder on the display that protects the US Constitution, Archives officials said in a news release.

“The Constitution was unaffected in its encasement. No damage was done to the document itself,” the Archives said in a statement.

The individuals were immediately detained by security at the time of the incident, around 2:30 p.m., and officials are investigating, the Archives said.

In a video posted to X, two men stood in front of the powder-covered encasement and spoke out about the right to clean water and a livable climate before being approached and detained by uniformed guards.

“We take such vandalism very seriously and we will insist that the perpetrators be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” Archivist of the United States Colleen Shogan said in a statement.

The National Archives Rotunda will remain closed for cleaning Thursday, the Archives said, but the rest of the National Archives Building will be open on its regular schedule.

The incident is part of a trend of high-profile vandalism with the intent to draw attention to the climate crisis and other human-caused environmental harm.

Activists with the UK group Just Stop Oil have targeted iconic artwork. In 2022, in one of their most high-profile protests, they flung tomato soup over Vincent van Gogh’s famous “Sunflowers” at a London Gallery. In 2023, the group smeared red paint and then glued their hands to the protective glass on “The Artist’s Garden at Giverny,” a painting by the French Impressionist Claude Monet on display in an exhibition at Stockholm’s National Museum.

While such acts may succeed in gaining attention, experts have previously told CNN they also attract significant criticism and risk backlash toward their cause.

The Constitution is on permanent display as part of the “Charters of Freedom” exhibit showing the United States’ founding documents, along with the Declaration of Independence and Bill of Rights. The documents are “sealed in the most scientifically advanced housing that preservation technology can provide” and are normally open for daily public viewing from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

CNN’s Alicia Jennings, Rashard Rose and Laura Paddison contributed to this report.

™ & © 2024 Cable News Network, Inc., a Warner Bros. Discovery Company. All rights reserved.

Article Topic Follows: CNN - National

Jump to comments ↓

CNN Newsource


KTVZ NewsChannel 21 is committed to providing a forum for civil and constructive conversation.

Please keep your comments respectful and relevant. You can review our Community Guidelines by clicking here

If you would like to share a story idea, please submit it here.

Skip to content