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Protesters target Barclays as seven avoid prison for window-breaking action

A group of people pose outside a Barclays branch

Image: James Ward.

Members of XR Bristol held a demo outside the Broadmead branch of Barclays in solidarity with seven women sentenced today in London for breaking the windows of Barclays’ headquarters in 2021.

Thirty protesters from XR Bristol and Christian Climate Action stood outside the bank holding banners and distributing flyers to passers-by. For a time, three protesters also stood inside Barclays although the bank was able to stay open. 

Claire Gronow, from XR Bristol, said: ‘We’ve come down here today to draw attention to Barclays being climate criminals. Barclays is the biggest funder of fossil fuel projects in Europe and we know that if we want to have any chance of surviving on this planet we need to have no new fossil fuel projects.’

Read more: XR target Barclays in nationwide action

XR are asking people who bank with Barclays to switch to a different bank. ‘The most powerful message that we can send climate criminals like Barclays is to remove your money, because they are using their customers’ money to fund new fossil fuel projects and destroy the planet,’ said Claire. 

Switching is easy, said Claire, adding: ‘It’ll take you a few minutes and you’ll feel so much better for doing it. You’ll feel like you’ve made a real positive contribution.’ 

Before the demo, activists had postered the windows of the Barclays branch. Image: James Ward.

Members of the public had mixed feelings about the idea of switching. One woman, a Barclays customer, said she would definitely consider switching, but others said they hadn’t thought about it. 

The demo, which lasted from midday until 2.00pm on Friday, January 27, came alongside similar actions outside Barclays’s branches across the country in solidarity with XR activists who were today each handed two-year suspended sentences and ordered to pay court costs for a protest against Barclays in April 2021. 

During that action, seven women broke windows at the Barclays headquarters in Canary Wharf London, causing £100,000 of damage. The women were not ordered to pay any money to Barclays as part of their sentencing.

Carol Wood, 53, Nicola Stickells, 52, Sophie Cowen, 31, Lucy Porter, 48, Gabriella Ditton, 28, Rosemary Webster, 64, and Zoe Cohen, 52, were convicted at Southwark Crown Court in December 2022 and sentenced on January 27. 

Barclays is the biggest single financier of fossil fuels in Europe, and seventh biggest in the world, having invested billions in fossil fuel extraction via projects such as the Dakota access pipeline, Canadian tar sands and Saudi Aramco. Other banks with large investments in fossil fuels include HSBC and Standard Charter.

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