Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old Swedish climate activist who delivered an impassioned speech in front of world leaders at the UN Climate Action Summit last week, has been subject to frequent personal attacks and threats to her safety ever since she surfaced on the world stage. One of the latest attacks came from Bernard Chenebault, president of the Paris-based group Amis du Palais de Tokyo (Friends of Palais de Tokyo) who called the young activist a “madwoman” who “we must shoot down” in a Facebook post on Sunday. In a statement today, Palais de Tokyo, Europe’s largest contemporary art center, removed him from his post and distanced itself from Chenebault’s remarks.
The Amis du Palais de Tokyo organizes events and activities for a network of patrons and collectors supporting the museum. Chenebault continued his attacks on Thunberg with a derogatory term for people suffering from mental illness, saying, “I hope an off-center person shoots her.”
“We disapprove of these words and dissociate ourselves from this position, formulated in a personal capacity and which does not engage the Palais de Tokyo or the Friends of the Palais de Tokyo,” Emma Lavigne, the president of Palais de Tokyo, responded in a statement on social media today, according to Artforum. “The general assembly of the Friends of the Palais de Tokyo will meet as soon as possible to proceed with the election of a new person to the presidency,” she added.
In a statement on Facebook today, Chenebault tried to walk back his comments. “I deeply regret these words that have struck many people, to whom I apologize for the outrage they have felt,” he wrote. “Of course, I don’t call for the murder of Greta Thunberg and ask you to believe that in Facebook’s ‘game,’ my words totally slipped out of my thought and intention. These personal words have no connection with the association of Amis du Palais de Tokyo, nor with the Palais de Tokyo, which I regret to have embarrassed.”
As Artforum noted, this isn’t Chenebault’s first derogatory social media post. He previously equated the Muslim population near Paris’s Château Rouge metro station to livestock, saying that putting a mural by painter Barthélemy Toguo in the station was like giving “pearls to swine.” The 2017 post, first reported by French journalist Magali Lesauvage, was later deleted.