Patrick Hutchinson, Black Lives Matter protester who carried opposing demonstrator to safety, says he wants ‘equality for all of us’
In the middle of opposing demonstrations in London over the weekend, a Black Lives Matter protester placed a bloodied counter-protester in a ‘fireman’s lift’ and carried him to the police.
It’s a photo that has resonated with many as a moment of humanity that jarred with the broader narrative of violent scuffles between clashing demonstrators.
Anti-racism protester Patrick Hutchinson has spoken to British media about the story behind the photo and why he stepped in to carry the man to safety.
What happened exactly?
Over the weekend, hundreds of protesters from far-right groups and the Black Lives Matter movement gathered for separate demonstrations in London.
Police were punched, kicked, and pelted with bottles, firing tear gas on crowds while some far-right protesters tried to use metal crash barriers to break through police lines.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson condemned the clashes as “racist thuggery”, while London Mayor Sadiq Khan urged people to “stay away”.
“It is clear that far-right groups are causing violence and disorder in central London,” Mar Khan wrote on Twitter.
The viral photo
It was a photographer from wire service Reuters who captured a moment of humanity amid the chaos, photographing one man resolutely carrying another through the fray.
“I saw a skirmish and someone falling to the ground,” photographer Dylan Martinez recalled of the moment near Waterloo Bridge, in central London.
“The two men then appeared through the crowd.
“I was in the right place at the right time, and incredibly lucky from that point of view. He came towards me walking briskly.”
Who is the man?
The man who lifted the protester was soon identified as Patrick Hutchinson, a personal trainer and grandfather.
Mr Hutchinson has since spoken to Channel 4 in the UK about his decision to go to the protests and the events leading up to the photo.
“I had no plans to go up there [to the protests],” he said.
“I was at home looking after my grandchildren, and my friend said: ‘We’ve gotta go and protect the women and the children and stop these young guys from getting in any trouble’.”
The story behind the image
Mr Hutchinson said it was a “scary” moment when the protests descended into violence.
“There was a bit of an altercation at the top of the stairs, between the far-right … football hooligans, whatever you want to call them, and some of the Black Lives Matter protesters.
“It looks as though the hooligans got dispersed, leaving one man standing, and unfortunately for him everybody set upon him.
“There was a bit of a melee on the stairs, the guy ended up on the floor, and these guys rushed in to stop him from getting trampled.”
Mr Hutchinson said he was concerned the man would be trampled or set upon if he remained where he was.
“There were people trying to protect him, but unsuccessfully,” he said.
“The guys went in there, they sort of put a little cordon around him to stop him receiving any more physical harm … his life was under threat.
“Whilst they did that, I just thought, ‘well, if he stays here, he’s not going to make it’, so I just went under, scooped him up, put him over my shoulders and sort of started marching towards the police with him, whilst all the guys were surrounding me and protecting me and the guy I had on my shoulder.
‘I just want equality for all of us’
He said his only thought at the time was getting the man to safety.
“I was just thinking of a human being on the floor,” he said.
“It wasn’t going to end well had we not intervened.
“And that was it, I had no other thoughts in my mind apart from getting him to safety.”
Mr Hutchinson contrasted his action with the Minneapolis police officers who did not intervene as George Floyd was being held down with a knee to his neck.
“I just want equality, equality for all of us. At the moment, the scales are unfairly balanced and I just want things to be fair for my children and my grandchildren.”
In a statement, police said 113 people had been arrested over the weekend and 23 officers were injured in the violence, none of them seriously.
The man Mr Hutchinson carried has not been identified and his condition is not known.
The reaction on social media to the picture and events it portrayed has been largely positive.
“Amid all the ugliness, a beautiful moment of humanity,” wrote British journalist Piers Morgan in a Tweet accompanying the photograph.
Labour MP David Lammy wrote: “Patrick Hutchinson carries an injured stranger to safety during yesterday’s protests. It’s easy to focus on the worst instincts of human behaviour. But it is vital we also celebrate the best.”