Boycott Barclays poster from the 70s - Don't Bank on Apartheid
We handed out flyers to Barclays' customers, who were also confronted with a large board directly opposite the bank's shopfront entrance alerting them to Barclays' links to the global arms trade and Israel. The flyers included information about how Barclays profits from death, destruction and Israeli Apartheid, as well as a little background to the current escalation of the conflict by Israel and the terrible consequences for the Palestinian people of the Operation 'Cast Lead' bombardment of Gaza in 2008-9. Customers were encouraged to boycott the bank. Barclays was a major supporter of the South African Apartheid regime and was the subject of a concerted boycott campaign in the 70s and 80s, eventually pulling out of South Africa in the mid-80s.
A Barclays rep came to the doorway at one point to demand angrily "Have you got permission to do that?" then stormed off to call the cops who must have declined the invitation to attend.
When all our Barclays flyers had run out, we handed out information leaflets about Palestine and the Boycott Israeli Goods campaign.
I had some interesting conversations with supportive passers-by including a man from a military family who'd been high up in the RAF for years, had latterly worked in the Middle East and didn't seem to be under any illusions about nuclear weapons, US interventionism or the plight of the Palestinians; a Salvation Army captain; a worker who asked for flyers and posters for his staff canteen. Apart from unfriendly Barclays staff, a guy who spat back over his shoulder at us as he walked past and the usual more polite declines, the only negative feedback I had was from a Barclays customer who seemed genuinely puzzled that anyone should object to them financing weapons manufacturers.
"But surely it's nothing to do with Barclays what these companies spend the money on... Barclays only gives them the loan. I don't see how they're responsible - their job is just to make a profit."Barclays directly invests in and provides banking services for as well as giving loans to corporate criminals but, sticking to the loan question, we spent some time exploring the scenario of a friend asking us for money which we knew would be used to pay a hit man to kill someone. Would we have any sort of moral responsibility to consider the consequences of our action - lending money - in this situation? The guy didn't seem to think so. Our display today included a baby-sized coffin with details of the number of children killed in criminal attacks by Israel on Gaza during Operation 'Cast Lead'. I restated the scenario but this time with an end result of hundreds of dead children. He finally conceded that he could see my point, took some information leaflets and went on his way.
Read more about Barclays at Smash EDO.
And banks more generally in this War on Want Report.
Previous action in Wrexham (with some of the same props): report and photos.
Why public awareness of the issues is so poor: Media Lens alert.
Amnesty on Operation Cast Lead: Report.
Mehdi Hasan: Ten Things You Need to Know about Gaza.