London — Clashes broke out across London last weekend between far-right activists, police and Black Lives Matter demonstrators, but images of a single act from amid the chaos have come to represent Britain’s collective hope for unity. After weeks of worldwide protests sparked by the police killing of George Floyd, photos of a group of Black Lives Matter supporters rescuing a far-right activist from the melee have become powerful symbols.
Patrick Hutchinson is in the man seen in the images carrying a dazed and injured white counter-protester to the safety of police.
Hutchinson told CBS News that for him and his friends, it was all about doing the right thing in a tense situation.
“There was no thought,” he said of his decision to scoop the man up and sling him over his shoulder. “It was just a matter of, ‘let’s get in there and do what’s right.'”
“If we hadn’t have done that, we’d be talking about something different,” Hutchinson told CBS News. Videos from the scene showed the white protester being beaten on the ground before he was rescued by Hutchinson and a group of his friends.
The Londoner said if they hadn’t acted when they did, the “narrative would have changed, and it would be more of a focus on what the Black Lives Matter protesters did to an individual as opposed to us saving his life.”
“We want to show that we’re not like the other side, the people that are trying to stop equality from taking place, the people who are racists. We’re not like them. We’re different, we’re cut from a different cloth,” Hutchinson said.
As Black Lives Matter demonstrators continue to march for a more just society, the movement is also calling for the statues of slave traders and past leaders with well documented racist views to be taken down.
That has sparked a fierce debate, and rival protests by the far-right, about who to memorialize in a nation that rarely confronts its imperialist past.
For Hutchinson, it seems like a moment to try and push for real and lasting change.
“Anything that can help black people get to a higher place in this country, or the world over, that I’ll be party to,” he said. “Anything I can do to help push this forward, I definitely want to be a part of it.”