It is the photograph that has captured a hopeful, valiant, singular moment in a divided Britain — the image of a Black Lives Matter protester hoisting an injured man suspected of being a far-right demonstrator onto his shoulder to extricate him from a violent scrum near Waterloo Bridge.
From Saturday’s melee in central London emerged Patrick Hutchinson, a black Briton, hailed as a savior for carrying the prone white man with a shaved head and cutoff jeans in a fireman’s lift.
The British tabloids, even the right-wing ones, called Hutchinson a “hero,” and accolades poured forth on social media from politicians and ordinary folk. Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s spokesman said, “Patrick Hutchinson’s instincts in that moment represent the best of us.”
On his Instagram account, Hutchinson wrote, “We saved a life today.”
In an interview with Britain’s Channel 4, the personal trainer and grandfather said he arrived at the scene to see the man on the ground, under attack by protesters.
Hutchinson and his mates formed a cordon around the man.
“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 what we did, George Floyd would be alive today still,” Hutchinson said, referring to the unarmed black man in Minneapolis who died May 25 after a police officer put a knee to his neck for almost nine minutes.
“I just want equality for all of us,” Hutchinson told broadcasters. “At the moment, the scales are unfairly balanced, and I want things to be fair for my children and my grandchildren.”
The rescue occurred during rallies in London on Saturday, when Black Lives Matter demonstrators had mostly yielded the streets to avoid clashes with far-right counterprotesters, whom organizers had called out to defend national monuments such as the Winston Churchill statue in Parliament Square and the Cenotaph memorial near 10 Downing Street, from vandalism.
A week ago, during protests over racism and police brutality, one young man had tried to set alight a Union Flag at the Cenotaph, a memorial to Britain’s war dead. Someone else had tagged the Churchill statue with graffiti calling him a racist, sparking a national debate over the wartime prime minister’s words and actions.
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SOURCE: The Washington Post, William Booth and Karla Adam