Photo of Patrick Hutchinson coming to the man’s aid went viral after Saturday’s protests
Clea Skopeliti – The Guardian
Patrick Hutchinson carries the injured man near Waterloo station in London. Photograph: Dylan Martinez/Reuters
The Black Lives Matter demonstrator who carried a counter-protester to safety during Saturday’s protests in London has spoken out about the moment he decided to intervene to help the man.
Describing his decision to step in, Patrick Hutchinson said: “His life was under threat, so I just went under, scooped him up, put him on my shoulders and started marching towards the police with him.”
Hutchinson contrasted the intervention with the lack of action taken by the Minneapolis police officers who were involved in George Floyd’s death. “If the other three police officers that were standing around when George Floyd was murdered had thought about intervening, and stopping their colleague from doing what he was doing, like we did, George Floyd would be alive today.
“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.”
Police said 113 people were arrested on Saturday, including a 28-year-old man detained on suspicion of urinating by a Westminster memorial dedicated to the murdered police officer Keith Palmer, after far-right activists organised a counter-protest to BLM groups. The Metropolitan police said its officers were injured after being kicked, punched or hit by missiles as they faced hundreds of angry demonstrators, who claimed they were protecting statues.
Hutchinson and his friends, who are security and martial arts experts, attended an anti-racist protest on Saturday to “try and keep the peace”. When far-right groups began to clash with black protestors, Hutchinson said the man he helped had been caught alone and left by his friends.
Pierre Noah, a businessman and friend of Hutchinson’s, said of the incident: “It would have turned out really bad because someone’s life would have been taken and you know what would have happened. Straight away – black boys have killed somebody, and they’ve killed a white man – it’s just going to be worse. So we had to go out there. I couldn’t sleep.”
Describing his motivation to help the protester, Jamaine Facey, a personal trainer, said: “I’m not protecting him, I’m protecting our kids. I was protecting their future, because I know the judge would not have saw what happened before. I was protecting their future.”
Chris Otokito, a businessman, described the group’s effort to de-escalate the situation. “We were there to serve a purpose. We saw it escalating, we tried to get around the guy to try and stop it from happening. Patrick came in and assessed the situation straight away, picked him up and just tried to do what we could to get him back to a safer place.”
A photo of Hutchinson carrying the injured man went viral on Sunday, with people describing the BLM protester as a hero.
Claudia Webbe, the Labour MP for Leicester East, tweeted: “A national hero – this is what humanity looks like.”
David Lammy, the Labour MP for Tottenham, shared the photo on Twitter, writing: “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.”
Boris Johnson condemned the “racist thuggery” of the rightwing protests in London, while the chancellor, Rishi Sunak, on Sunday described the scenes as “shocking and disgusting”.
Similar demonstrations took place elsewhere in the country, including in Bolton and Bristol, but appeared to proceed mostly peacefully.