In Depth

Reaction: BLM activist saves counter-protester amid violent clashes

Photo of Patrick Hutchinson rescuing injured man from London crowd has gone viral

A Black Lives Matter protester is being applauded as a hero for carrying an injured rival demonstrator to safety after violence erupted at demonstrations in London on Saturday.

An image captured by a Reuters news agency photographer shows Patrick Hutchinson, a personal trainer and grandfather, rescuing a man believed to be a far-right protester from an angry crowd near Waterloo Station.

Hutchinson, from Wimbledon, later identified himself on social media after the image went viral. Speaking to Channel 4 News, he described the “scary” moment when the violence erupted around him after far-right agitators spilled out from Trafalgar Square and headed across the River Thames.

“It was pretty hectic, it was almost like a stampede. 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.”

Hutchinson said he had feared that if the lone man was left to fend for himself, “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”.

The martial arts expert has been hailed as a symbol of hope by online commentators including Labour MP for Tottenham David Lammy. “It’s easy to focus on the worst instincts of human behaviour. But it is vital we also celebrate the best,” Lammy wrote.

Claudia Webbe, the Labour MP for Leicester East, tweeted: “A national hero – this is what humanity looks like.”

That sentiment has been echoed by The Telegraph, which describes the image of Hutchinson carrying the unnamed white man to safety on his shoulder “as a symbol of hope and unity amid the chaos of Saturday’s disorder”.

Writing for The Sun, social worker Ray Lewis, a former London deputy mayor for young people, describes the father of two as a “black superhero without a uniform”.

Hutchinson “could so easily have made a conscious decision to walk on by and leave his opposition in harm’s way”, Lewis adds.

But instead, “he showed the world what is at the heart of black consciousness – a sense of humanity and equality which we simply want reflected back at us”.

Responding to the praise, Hutchinson said that while had had been scared, “you just do what you have got to do”.

“It’s not black versus white, it is everyone versus the racists. We had each other’s back and protected those who needed us,” he concluded.

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