• First published in 2004 as Bartholomew’s Notes on Religion (BNOR).

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London: Third Week of Targeted Protests By Anti-Vaxxers Dressed in Black

From BBC News:

Four officers have been injured during clashes with anti-vaccine protesters in central London, the Met Police said.

…Demonstrators tried to storm the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) headquarters in central London. Protesters then moved to South Kensington.

…The protest comes after journalists working for ITN were trapped in their offices when a group of anti-vaccine and anti-lockdown protesters forced their way into the broadcaster’s London headquarters on 23 August.

That followed an incident two week before when a crowd thought to be made up of anti-vaccine protesters tried to gain access to the BBC’s old headquarters in White City, west London.

Social media clips show that this was pretty much the same crowd at each event, dressed predominately in black and not carrying placards. As at the BBC protest (blogged here), there was at least one attendee wearing the red beret of the Parachute Regiment; another regular, described as a ringleader, is noted in a Twitter thread here. After proceeding from the MHRA building in Canary Wharf the main target in South Kensington was reportedly the Science Museum (presumably because it hosts an NHS vaccination centre), but there was also a more general melee at South Kensington tube station and at the south end of Exhibition Road.

Although the protests are primarily anti-vax (or toned down to “anti-vaccine passports” for some audiences), there are also QAnon-adjacent grievances: thus at last week’s ITN protest in Gray’s Inn Road, when the Channel 4 newsreader Jon Snow was spotted entering the ITN building by a side entrance he was accosted by a protestor who called him “rat” who didn’t “speak up for the children”. Another shouted after him “Are you a paedophile, Jon?”. The BBC’s Marianna Spring recognised one of these protestors:

The man featured here at 14 minutes told our team that we should be executed for crimes against humanity. He then posted on Instagram calling me a rat.

He has appeared at these rallies a number of times promoting online conspiracies and violent rhetoric.

Noting yesterday’s MHRA protest she now adds:

Violence from protesters is escalating – and increasingly organised. Telegram channels discuss weapons and use threatening language about executions. This is a topic I’m continuing to report on in the coming months.