Protesters in London called for Bill Gates to be arrested on Saturday as they gathered outside the U.K. headquarters of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation as part of a larger protest against COVID-19 lockdown measures.
Videos circulating on social media on Tuesday appeared to show dozens of protesters outside the Gates Foundation’s HQ in the British capital. They can be heard shouting “Arrest Bill Gates!” several times. Other social media users who were present at the protest also said demonstrators had been to the foundation’s HQ on Saturday.
Gates, the founder of Microsoft and a multibillionaire, has been at the center of unfounded conspiracy theories involving the COVID-19 pandemic and the development of a vaccine.
In the 19-second video, some of the protesters can be seen carrying anti-vaccine flags and some are holding placards.
One woman is holding a sign with a blown-up front page of The Sun newspaper featuring a photo of former British Health Secretary Matt Hancock kissing his then aide, Gina Coladangelo.
Hancock resigned following revelations of his affair with Coladangelo, citing the fact he broke COVID rules by kissing and touching her in May.
The protesters shout “Arrest Bill Gates!” repeatedly though it is not immediately clear what crime the crowd may be accusing him of. However, Gates has become a magnet for conspiracy theories in relation to the pandemic.
The Microsoft co-founder told Reuters in January that he was surprised to find himself as a subject of conspiracies along with Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID).
“Nobody would have predicted that I and Fauci would be so prominent in these really evil theories,” Gates said. “I’m very surprised by that [and] I hope it goes away.”
Among the unfounded claims made about Gates was the idea that he wanted to use COVID vaccinations to implant microchips in people. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation pledged around $1.75 billion to the worlwide pandemic response efforts, according to CNBC.
This included funding for vaccines and provided fuel for those making baseless claims about Gates. In June 2020, Gates said: “It’s almost hard to deny this stuff because it’s so stupid or strange that even to repeat it gives it credibility.”
Three people were arrested as a result of anti-lockdown protests in London on Saturday, according to The Guardian newspaper. Three police officers were assaulted and sustained minor injuries, while tennis balls were thrown at the Houses of Parliament in Westminster.
Other protests also took place in London over the weekend, including a separate demonstration against the government on Saturday and an Extinction Rebellion protest on Sunday.
Chief Superintendent Karen Findlay of London’s Metropolitan Police, who was in command of the operation, said: “The significant majority of those protesting today engaged in a positive manner with our officers. We did experience small pockets of antisocial behavior in Whitehall which involved missiles being thrown at officers, but these were dealt with quickly and effectively.”
Newsweek has asked the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for comment.