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Climate group’s Gardner visit was about advocacy, not destruction

Climate activists protesting outside the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston in March prompted the museum to close for the day.John Tlumacki/Globe Staff

Re “Gardner Museum director: Why we closed our doors to a climate protest” (Letters, Sept. 13): Since 1990, when 13 paintings were stolen from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, more than 1 million species have gone extinct. Compared to missing art, there is no hope of return for extinct species (no matter the reward offered); each loss makes ecosystems more susceptible to collapse. For Sept. 7, Extinction Rebellion Boston planned a field trip to the Gardner wearing T-shirts highlighting this sixth mass extinction.

We understand that secrecy around a previous action planned for March 18 led to misunderstandings. After that, organizers contacted Peggy Fogelman, the Norma Jean Calderwood Director of the museum, seeking reconciliation. The museum visit planned for earlier this month was publicized online, inviting all members of the public to participate.


In both cases, we released statements clarifying that we never planned any damage. Each XR chapter is autonomous, but all have nonviolence as a central principle. Our organizers equate property destruction with violence and do not condone it.

We don’t believe Fogelman comprehends our message or understands the gravity of the actual problem. We do not care that the Gardner Museum is LEED certified. We care that humanity is heading toward extinction and we urgently need systematic change. The old version of “discourse” has done nothing but uphold the status quo, and the status quo is killing us all.

Pam DiBona

Jule Manitz

Extinction Rebellion Boston


The writers are representing the views of the action organizing team.