Videos posted on social media showed protesters clashing with police as they attempted to force their way into the building, which is about four miles west of central London. Hundreds of people outside the studio building chanted “shame on you,” the Guardian newspaper reported, adding that many appeared to think they were protesting a major BBC News operation and that pre-protest material had played up the building’s links to the broadcaster.
“Officers were pushed by a small number of demonstrators [running toward the entrance,] but the arrival of additional officers quickly restored calm,” London’s Metropolitan Police said in a statement. It added that an officer suffered a minor facial injury and that no arrests were made. The BBC declined to comment.
The BBC remains broadly popular with the British public, who fund the broadcaster via a license fee. But it has often been attacked by right-of-center commentators for allegedly being elitist and too reflective of a liberal, urban worldview. Its journalists have also faced verbal and physical attacks during the coronavirus pandemic, with the political editor of its “Newsnight” program, Nick Watt, targeted outside Downing Street by anti-lockdown protesters earlier this year.
The circular Television Centre building, known as “the doughnut,” opened in 1960. The broadcaster vacated the building in 2012 — it retains a non-news operation there — and it was later refurbished. The majority of the BBC’s London-based news staff are based at Broadcasting House. A smaller group of demonstrators later marched to that central London building.
“Is there a link between stupidity and anti-vaccine?” wrote Andrew Neil, a center-right media entrepreneur and former BBC host, on Twitter, noting that Monday’s events made the antics of “The Gang That Couldn’t Shoot Straight,” a 1971 American crime comedy film, “look sensible.”
Monday’s event is not the first coronavirus protest to meet with public derision. Demonstrators protesting a lockdown in Sydney last month provoked outrage among residents, especially when a man was arrested for attacking a police horse.
An image of the horse, named Tobruk, allegedly being struck on the nose by the man went viral after being shared on social media. The man was later arrested and charged with animal cruelty and affray. Tobruk was showered with licorice, apples and carrots from “many well-wishers across the community,” his rider told local media.
Vaccine passes have also spurred another round of pandemic protests in Europe. Both in France and in Germany, some protesters — rallying alongside far-right activists — have accused their governments of resembling the Nazi regime, The Washington Post reported.
In the United States, the Biden administration announced mandate-like guidelines last month for the millions who work in the federal government, requiring them to be vaccinated or undergo repeated testing. Many major U.S. employers have made inoculation a condition of employment.