2 september 2019

Manchester Extinction Rebellion activists glue themselves to banks

Barclays and HSBC targeted on final day of protests against fossil fuel investments

Helen Pidd and Lucy Campbell, The Guardian, Mon 2 Sep 2019

Environmental protesters have glued themselves to banks in Manchester to protest against fossil fuel investments on the final day of Extinction Rebellion’s action in the city.

Nine activists stuck themselves to the pavement outside Barclays in Piccadilly Square, with a further two following suit at HSBC in St Ann’s Square on Monday.

No arrests were made. About 100 protesters also staged “die-ins” across the city, blocking the road outside the fish market in the Arndale shopping centre “to highlight the damage animal agriculture does to the environment”.

They then lay on the site of the former Central Retail Park, which the council wants to turn into a car park. Extinction Rebellion has donated all plants from its pop-up park to the site, which local residents have occupied and declared a “people’s park”.

Lizzy Haughton had glued one hand to another protester and the other to the paving stone outside Barclays. A sabbatical officer at Manchester University, she has already been arrested twice at Extinction Rebellion protests, receiving a conditional discharge for spray painting the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs building and awaiting trial for another action in Manchester last year.

She said she was not worried about being arrested for a third time. “I have given up my career prospects because there will be no planet to do anything in if we don’t act soon,” she said.

By lunchtime she was released by Greater Manchester police after officers made it clear they had no plans to arrest the group. “[Arrests] would have been good,” she said, “but we have got into the media already and the point was to bring attention to Barclays.”

A recent report from the Rainforest Action Network and the BankTrack group, which tracks and analyses the investments of banks around the world, found Barclays had invested $24bn (£20bn) in fossil fuels last year. The bank said that was less than the £27.3bn it had facilitated in green bonds and renewable financing in the same period. It said it was determined to “do all we can to support the transition to a low carbon economy, while also ensuring that global energy needs continue to be met”.

At the HSBC protest, Michael Silkstone, 60, from Huddersfield, said he was there “because it’s my generation that are the ones that have caused this”.

He added: “We’re here outside HSBC because the banks invest huge amounts in the fossil fuels that are polluting our climate for profit. They aren’t concerned about me or my son or my grandson.”

Reem Reynolds, 28, from Whalley Range in Manchester, took part in a die-in outside HSBC. “I’m disabled and I was lying on the floor earlier in the die-in with my walking stick because I’m scared for all of our futures. I’m too scared to have kids with the way things are going, because climate change will affect all of us, no matter how safe you feel now,” she said.

Extinction Rebellion has occupied a section of Deansgate – one of Manchester’s main streets for shopping, eating and drinking – since Friday. A petition has been launched to close the street permanently to motorised traffic, arguing that it would be good for health and business.

Research from the Walk Ride Greater Manchester campaign group said businesses on the closed stretch had a bumper weekend.

The cafe and bar Over Under said it had doubled takings and ran out of food three times on Saturday. Pret a Manger, which has a vegetarian branch on Deansgate, asked: “Can we do this every week?”. Go Falafel said it was tthe store’s best Saturday for four years. Waterstones had the “best Saturday footfall ever”. Two restaurants told the Manchester Evening News their sales were down.

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