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Citigroup protesters blockading NYC headquarters claim they were shoved by one of bank’s top lawyers

Protesters who have been blockading the entrance of Citigroup’s New York City headquarters for more than a month claim they were shoved by one of the banking giant’s top lawyers in a violent scuffle caught on video — but the bank denies any wrongdoing by any of its employees.

Shocking footage of the incident obtained by The Post, which has also been circulating in edited form on Instagram, shows a man in a blue, button-down dress shirt and jeans pushing against a line of protesters who are holding what looks like a black barricade made to resemble an oil pipeline.

The protesters — who have taken aim at Citi over its ties to the oil industry and, more recently, its ties to the Israeli military amid the war in Gaza — claim that the man who shoved them was Arthur Kohn, Citi’s general counsel for ERISA, compensation and benefits.

A man can be seen shoving the protesters and the makeshift blockade they are holding in a video obtained by The Post. Planet Over Profit

“There was a lot of chanting, demanding that Citi get off fossil fuels,” a protester who was outside headquarters the day of the incident told The Post. “Arthur and some other employees didn’t like it.”

The protester claimed the two activists in the video were standing still and chanting while holding the makeshift barricade. They claim that Kohn then pushed one of them into a wall. 

It couldn’t immediately be confirmed that the man in the video was Kohn — a graduate of Columbia Law School who was a longtime partner at white-shoe law firm Cleary Gottlieb before he joined Citi in 2020, according to LinkedIn.

Citi denied the allegations, and declined to comment on whether the employee caught on video was Kohn.

“The protester’s story about what occurred is verifiably false,” a Citi spokesperson told The Post. “Unedited video shows she [the protester] and others were unlawfully blocking our building doors with a large object, and after our employee was hit with that object, he pushed it out of his way.”

Kohn did not respond to requests for comment.

The NYPD told The Post it has made at least 175 arrests during the Citigroup protests for disorderly conduct and other charges since April.

Citigroup urged its employees to “keep their cool” in an internal memo last week as the pro-Palestinian protesters blockaded the building entrance and chanted “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.”

Climate activists have been protesting outside Citigroup for weeks. Gina M Randazzo/ZUMA Press Wire / SplashNews.com

“We respect the right to protest, but not at the expense of our colleagues’ safety nor when others perpetuate abuse or hatred,” Ed Skyler, Citigroup’s head of enterprise services and public affairs, said in a copy of last week’s memo that was obtained by The Post.

“Simply put, we do not tolerate acts of intimidation and violence, and we denounce antisemitism, Islamophobia, acts of hatred, discrimination and prejudice of any kind,” Skyler added.

A protester told The Post the climate and pro-Palestinian activists are purposefully blocking employees from entering the building in an attempt to get Citi to “pay attention.”

The NYPD said it has made dozens of arrests since April connected to the Citigroup protests. Gina M Randazzo/ZUMA Press Wire / SplashNews.com
The protestor said it is their goal to block employees from entering the building and make a statement. Gina M Randazzo/ZUMA Press Wire / SplashNews.com

“People are being inconvenienced all across the globe and these bankers are only being inconvenienced on their way into work,” they said.

The protester acknowledged that blocking the employees from their place of work at 7 a.m. “escalated tensions.”

Multiple climate groups have participated in the protests, including Summer of Heat and Planet Over Profit. 

Citigroup general counsel Arthur Kohn. Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP

A Summer of Heat spokesperson previously told The Post that Citigroup has “poured $396.3 billion into coal, oil and gas projects since the Paris agreement went into effect in 2016,” citing a Banking Dive report

Meanwhile, the pro-Palestinian protesters have attacked an alleged financial agreement by Citigroup to support Israel’s purchase of fighter jets from the US government.

While last week’s internal memo said that Citi’s 30-year-long presence in Israel is a point of “pride,” it also said the protesters’ information is false and that the financing of military equipment for the US and its allies requires senior level approval.

Citigroup “will not directly finance” biological, chemical or nuclear weapons and it is rare for the bank to be asked to finance military equipment, a copy of the memo said.

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