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National Archives closes after climate change protesters dump red powder on U.S. Constitution

The Constitution wasn't damaged, but the rotunda was closed for cleaning Thursday.
Image: The Rotunda of the National Archives
The rotunda of the National Archives in Washington in 2003.Ron Edmonds / AP file

The National Archives rotunda and galleries in Washington, D.C., closed to the public early on Wednesday afternoon after two apparent climate change protesters dumped red powder on the case holding the U.S. Constitution.

The encasement protected the Constitution from any damage, the National Archives said in a press release. The agency’s conservators are evaluating the damage to the rotunda.

The two men were immediately detained and escorted out by security personnel on site. The Metropolitan Police Department identified the suspects as Donald Zepeda, 35, and Jackson Green, 27. Both men are from Washington, D.C.

The contents of the powder remain unclear.

video posted on social media shows two men covered in the red powder, standing in front of the glass case housing the U.S. Constitution and making prepared speeches about climate change.

“We are determined to foment a rebellion,” one man says. “We all deserve clean air, water, food and a livable climate.”

Climate change activism group Declare Emergency confirmed to NBC Washington that two of its members were taken into custody at the National Archives.

The rotunda will remain closed for cleaning on Thursday, the National Archives said. The rest of the building will be open to visitors on its regular schedule.

“The National Archives Rotunda is the sanctuary for our nation’s founding documents. They are here for all Americans to view and understand the principles of our nation,” Archivist of the United States Colleen Shogan said in a statement. “We take such vandalism very seriously and we will insist that the perpetrators be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”

Climate change activists have recently grabbed international attention for their protests at art galleries, such as smearing cake over the “Mona Lisa” and splashing soup over “Sunflowers.”