A Barclays in Birmingham was forced to shut early after it was targeted by pro-Palestine activists. Protesters staged a ‘die-in’ at the High Street branch of Barclays, in the city centre, just before 11am on Saturday (10 February).
Around seven people brandishing placards stormed the entrance of the bank while activists outside the branch, holding up signs reading ‘Stop Gaza Genocide’, refused to let people in. The action is part of an international pro-Palestine boycott movement, with Barclays branches targeted across the country.
Protesters accuse Barclays of ‘supporting’ Israel’s attacks on Palestine. The bank has, in the past, strongly denied these claims and said it was committed to respecting human rights.
READ MORE: Birmingham’s drug ‘hotspots’ revealed as police stats show areas with most dealers, users and growers
Salman Mirza from Never Forget Gaza spurred on protesters outside the bank. Speaking at the protest, he said: “Look over there, Barclays bank. Guess what, it’s shut. Why? Because you guys have been protesting outside Barclays bank and shut it down. We are going to shut down the system and we’re going to say ‘Free Palestine!’”
Barclays bank confirmed their High Street branch closed from around 11am on Saturday due to the protest activity. A Barclays spokesperson said: “We apologise for any inconvenience caused by the temporary closure of our Birmingham High Street branch on Saturday.
“Decisions to pause our operations at such short notice are never taken lightly. However, the safety of our customers and colleagues will always be our priority.”
On Friday (9 February), Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) led a mass call for UK account holders to sever ties with Barclays. Research released by the organisation reported that “Barclays holds over £1 billion in shares and provides over £3 billion in loans and underwriting to 9 companies whose weapons, components, and military technology have been used in Israel’s armed violence against Palestinians.”
PSC director Ben Jamal said: “Nobody with a conscience could now bank with Barclays knowing it helps facilitate Israel’s genocidal assault on Gaza.”
In a statement, Barclays previously said: “Barclays is committed to respecting human rights as defined by the International Bill of Human Rights and takes account of other internationally accepted human rights standards and frameworks.
“We have a published statement on defence and security which sets out our policy positions and governs any business activities in the sector, including setting restrictions on certain financing activities and requiring enhanced due diligence as appropriate on clients in the sector. As a universal bank, Barclays provides a range of client services in relation to the shares of publicly listed companies, including those in the defence and security sector.
“Such client-driven activities may result in Barclays holding shares in those companies, for example, through hedging positions, market making, custody and underwriting activity. Barclays does not itself intend to make any direct strategic equity investments in the defence and security sector.”
The direct action is one of a series of protests that have taken place in Birmingham during the current Israel-Hamas war. Pro-Palestine protesters last week disrupted the Labour Party’s official West Midlands mayoral launch event in Birmingham in anger over the party’s stance on the Gaza conflict.
You can find this story in My Bookmarks.Or by navigating to the user icon in the top right.