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Anti-Lockdown Protests Drew Crowds of Conspiracy Theorists in London

Around 100 people gathered in Hyde Park to shout about freedom and vaccinations.
May 17, 2020, 10:22am
anti lockdown protest london
A man holding a sign featuring the conspiracy theorist David Icke.

This article originally appeared on VICE UK.

The UK saw its largest anti-lockdown protest so far this weekend, with around 100 people flocking to Hyde Park on Saturday to wave signs bearing inaccurate, conspiracy-driven messages about the coronavirus.

Despite the UK's death toll nearing 35,000 yesterday, nobody was making any attempts at social distancing, and there were few face masks in sight. Chants of "freedom!" and "you can shove your vaccination up your arse!" rang out over the course of the protest, summing up two of the primary reasons people were there: because they believe the lockdown is an affront to their personal freedom and the beginning of increased government overreach, or because they subscribe to the "vaccinations are bad, actually" school of thought.

But it wasn't all anti-vaxxers and freemen of the land: a few other flavours of conspiracy theorist were represented, from a man with a #JailBillGates sign featuring the face of David Icke – the renowned conspiracy theorist who has falsely claimed it's not possible to catch COVID-19 by shaking hands – to a woman holding a sign about "godless 5G masts".

There is absolutely zero evidence that 5G is harmful to humans in any way, but that hasn't stopped people from burning down masts or spitting at broadband engineers they suspect of installing the technology. The latest worry is that 5G is somehow linked to the spread of coronavirus. Again, there is no evidence to support this, but plenty to disprove it. For one: South Korea, which is a world leader in 5G infrastructure, has had 11,050 cases of COVID-19 and 262 deaths. Iran, which has no 5G technology, has seen 118,000 cases and 6,937 deaths at the time of writing.

One proponent of the conspiracy theory at yesterday's protest was Piers Corbyn – climate change denier and brother of Jeremy – who claimed, incorrectly, that "5G enhances anyone who's got illness from Covid, so they work together". Corbyn was one of 19 people arrested by the dozens of police on patrol, who also issued ten on-the-spot fines.

Scroll down to see more photos of the protest by Chris Bethell (who was wearing a mask and keeping his distance).

@christopherbethell