The protest follows growing pressures on BarclaysFelix Armstrong for Varsity

Students and local campaigners staged a sit-in at a Barclays branch in Cambridge today (20/01), calling for the bank to end its funding of the fossil fuel industry and its “investment” in Israel’s operations in Gaza.

A group of twenty-six student and local campaigners occupied Barclay’s St Andrew’s Street branch, staging a “die-in” on the floor of the bank.

“Die-ins” are a popular form of protest in which activists simulate being dead, acted today to “represent those killed in Gaza and by climate breakdown,” say organisers.

The action comes in the month after Cambridge students, among others from across the UK, launched a career boycott of Barclays, pledging not to take employment from the firm.

Students and locals took part in the sit-inFelix Armstrong for Varsity

Barclays has also come under pressure from the University of Cambridge in recent weeks, who are reportedly searching for a new banking partner, one which does not “finance fossil fuel expansion”.

This news puts Barclay’s two-centuries-long association with Cambridge under threat.

The protesters began their sit-in at 9:40 am, and left the bank voluntarily at 12:35 pm, having been shut in at 11:40. There was minimal police presence at the scene.

The occupation was attended by several student groups, including Cambridge Climate Justice and Cambridge University PalSoc. Other local groups were also involved, including Cambridge Stop the War and Cambridge Palestine Solidarity Campaign.

The activists remained inside the bank for three hoursFelix Armstrong for Varsity

Alongside those staging a “die-in” in the branch, others sung chants and slogans, including “Israel is a terrorist state” and “from the river, to the sea, Palestine will be free”.

Those inside the branch were joined on the street by a large group of campaigners, many of whom were students, who were flyering with the public, urging locals to remove their finances from the bank.

One activist who took part in the sit-in told Varsity: “We had a really peaceful sit-in, we did some die-ins, some meditation, we were holding banners and placards, we did some origami of cranes, which are a symbol of peace, and we also made a paper chain with lots of messages to Barclays for all the harm that they’re causing.”

On the protesters being locked inside the branch, they said: “We thought that they might close the bank, [...] but the mood didn’t really change, it just got a bit quieter.”

While inside the branch, activists made a paper chain of messages for the bankFelix Armstrong for Varsity

The campaigners claim that Barclays is “complicit” in Israel’s killing of 24,000 Gazans, citing Al Jazeera figures.

“Barclays must immediately withdraw its financial support for companies that manufacture arms used by the Israeli military,” the groups say.

Jenny, an organiser with Cambridge Palestinian Solidarity Campaign, said outside the bank: “We see our demands as being interconnected because the oppression of many people around the world, generally not of rich Western countries, is tied up with climate change.”

Barclays has been contacted for comment.