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Some Notes on the BBC Television Centre Protestors

From the Guardian:

Confused anti-vaccine protesters stormed what they thought was a major BBC building on Monday, apparently unaware the corporation largely moved out almost a decade ago.

Rather than target the BBC’s news operation, which they hold responsible for promoting Covid-19 vaccines, a handful of protesters gained access to Television Centre in west London, which is now predominantly rented by ITV to film its daytime shows such as Good Morning Britain and This Morning.

This takes at face value that the protest organisers made a mistake, but we shouldn’t discount other possibilities. One video clip I saw on social media shows Piers Corbyn telling some of those present that the building is easier to get into than Broadcasting House; if the point is primarily to build a movement and create a symbolic spectacle (and perhaps to trial for something bigger later), then the location was a softer choice. A smaller number of protestors did proceed to Broadcasting House (as also happened in June on the back of an earlier anti-vax protest), but it doesn’t look like they attempted anything there. (1)

The Guardian report is less informative than an article from Mail Online, which has screenshots and details about some of the organisers:

The protest, organised by anti-lockdown group Official Voice, is believed to have been directed against vaccine passports and jabs for children.

…One of the ringleaders appeared to be DJ Pat Wilson, who proudly posted a picture of himself on Instagram holding up his ‘demands’ inside the building.

…On its Instagram page, Official Voice said the ‘media is the problem’ and proclaimed that ‘the lies will end’ as it urged supporters to descend on London for today’s protest from as early as July 27.

There, they were filmed clashing with police outside the building, with at least one of the protesters wearing a beret as they tussled with officers.

The protest seems to have been carefully “branded” – most of the crowd wore black or dark grey, and a few wore t-shirts bearing an Official Voice logo. Notably, there did not appear to be any placards.

The report also notes “at least one of the protesters wearing a beret”, by which the authors mean a maroon beret bearing the badge of the Parachute Regiment. There were two individuals dressed this way; according to the Daily Telegraph, the “airborne forces community” has identified them as Marco Bruin, who “was a member of Support Company in 2PARA”, and Ricky Regan, who “was discharged from the army in 2011 for refusing to deploy to Afghanistan”. One of the two men appears to have confronted Piers Corbyn over the recent sting in which Corbyn was filmed accepting what he thought was a brown envelope of cash, and a social media clip shows Corbyn talking him round. Another clip shows that the man was also wearing a jacket bearing the words “Sin Eaters Guild”, which denotes a mainstream veterans’ charity.

The crowd’s hostility to the BBC was also apparent as the crowd headed along Oxford Street towards Broadcasting House, during which a TV reporter and camera-operator were abused on the assumption that they were with the corporation. The reporter complained on Twitter that she was “booed and harassed by masses, told to go back to where I come from and having my camera op almost assaulted if it wasn’t for a fellow journo saying we are not the BBC” – in fact, she actually identified herself as being with RT, after which the crowd became more supportive, referring to the channel’s reporting on Julian Assange. The incident recalls the harassment in June of the BBC Newsnight editor Nick Watt.

Some of the abuse was simply crude, but the insult “pedo-protector” was also thrown – presumably this refers to claims about the BBC and Jimmy Savile, and given that the upcoming tenth anniversary of Savile’s death has already provided a hook for new documentaries about him this line of attack is likely to intensify in the weeks and months ahead.

Note

1. A Twitter feed claiming to represent Official Voice states that “they are not an anti-vax movement, they are a TRUTH movement”. They also reject the claim that they targeted the old BBC Television Centre in error.

One Response

  1. This is the new reality of protests, a couple of individuals and groups are manipulating the masses into carefully organised, branded and targeted actions. These type of flash mobs can be organised at short notice at specific targets via social media.

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