Protesters target Barclays branches in nationwide demonstrations

Barclays bank branches across England and Scotland have faced a wave of protests led by the pro-Palestinian group Palestine Action. Up to twenty branches were targeted, with buildings defaced with red paint and windows smashed.

According to Palestine Action, the protests were organized to demand that Barclays divest from the Israeli arms trade and fossil fuels. A Barclays spokesperson responded: “While we support the right to protest, we ask that campaigners do so in a way that respects our customers, colleagues and property.”

In Bristol, the windows of a city center branch were shattered and red graffiti was sprayed across the building. In Edinburgh, protesters threw stones bearing the names of Palestinians killed during the conflict at a Barclays building.

City of London Police reported the arrest of three men, aged between 34 and 45, in connection with criminal damage at the Moorgate branch on Monday morning. This branch was one of several across the capital targeted, including sites in St John's Wood, Croydon, Richmond, Peckham and Croydon.

Elsewhere, branches in Stockport, Bury and Preston were similarly defaced and damaged. The protests also spread to Glasgow, Brighton, Exeter, Sheffield, Northampton, Birmingham and Solihull, as confirmed by Palestine Action.

The newly formed underground climate movement Shut the System collaborated with Palestine Action's underground division in these coordinated attacks. Both groups have stated that their actions will continue until Barclays stops investing in certain companies.

A spokesperson for Barclays reiterated the bank's position, saying: “Barclays provides essential financial services to US, UK and European government companies that supply defense products to NATO and its allies. The defense sector is fundamental to our national security and the UK Government has made it clear that supporting defense companies is compatible with ESG considerations. Decisions on the implementation of arms embargoes against other countries are the responsibility of the respective elected governments.”

These protests come in the wake of recent violence in southern Israel, where Hamas attacks on October 7 resulted in the deaths of approximately 1,200 people and the hostage-taking of approximately 251 people. The Hamas-led Health Ministry in Gaza reported a death toll of 37,084 people in the region on Saturday.

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