Thursday, January 20

Patrick Hutchinson: ‘My natural instinct is to protect the vulnerable’ | Black Lives Matter Movement

If Patrick Hutchinson had a penny for every time someone asked him if he received a thank you from the man whose life he saved, he says he would be a very rich man. “And if I had another penny for the shocked expression I have when I say I haven’t heard a word from him, well …” An ironic shrug follows.

Hutchinson’s act of bravery became one of the defining moments of a riot-ridden summer. On June 13, the image of him carrying an injured right-wing protester on his shoulders and carrying him to safety during a demonstration to protect British monuments went viral before he even got home that day.

Despite warnings to stay away, the 50-year-old father and grandfather of three says he and four friends went specifically to central London that day “just in case.” They had experienced what he describes as “mindless white rage” before. “We knew how aggressive he could be. We knew we had to be there to protect vulnerable Black Lives Matter protesters and to protect our black kids from harm. “

Patrick Hutchinson took Bryn Male to safety on June 13.
Patrick Hutchinson took Bryn Male to safety on June 13. Photograph: Dylan Martinez / Reuters

The day had been ugly with stress. The protesters assembled by Tommy Robinson, who later did not introduce himself, reached central London. Racist chants were shouted in Trafalgar Square and spread on social media. Violence simmered. The far right was apparently there to demonstrate against a series of Black Lives Matter protests that had been organized in the wake of George Floyd’s death. A statue of the slave trader Edward Colston had been torn down in Bristol the week before; gangs of drunken and angry white men claimed to be in London to protect British monuments. Instead, one was charged with urinating on a monument dedicated to a police officer who lost his life in a terrorist attack.

“It was a heavy job,” Hutchinson says. “The boys and I had already prevented three other incidents from happening before we reached Waterloo Bridge.” Hutchinson and his friends are fond of fitness. Beefcakes with years of martial arts training, had formed a group called Ark Security to protect young protesters from being caught up in violence. They didn’t expect to have to save 55-year-old Bryn Male, a retired transport police officer and Millwall FC soccer fan, who had reportedly been drinking long before his friends abandoned him and he was injured in the fray. .

“A Rastafarian guy was trying to protect him,” says Hutchinson, who could see that a fight had broken out and Male was being beaten. “There was a crowd at the time and it was getting ugly. We acted very quickly, we pushed people out of the way and got them out of there. ”Cheers and applause followed as Hutchinson ushered Male into a line of police officers.

“It was the police who surprised me the most that day,” he says, remembering that moment of adrenaline and confusion. “Living with the image of a man beaten to death is not something I can bear. How do the police do that? They seemed to be standing there looking at him and filming with their selfie sticks. One of them said ‘well done’, but I really couldn’t understand it. “

Hutchinson downplays being called a hero, though he says the incident has transformed every aspect of his life. Since then he has written a book with the poet Sophia Thakur called Everybody Versus Racism: A Letter to My Childrenand establish charity United to change and inspire, to fight racial inequality in Britain. He has been featured on news channels around the world, and the photograph of him was taken by Reuters photographer Dylan Martinez It has been turned into a mural in Lewisham.

His followers on social networks have also skyrocketed; He had just over 1,500 followers on Instagram for his fitness training and training prior to June. Snows closer to 30,000 and Hutchinson plans to create her own fitness channel and app.

“I always like to hear the stories in which someone’s life has changed, when an ordinary person is recognized for something,” he says. “They made me smile. I didn’t think it could have the same effect. “

Hutchinson grew up on a South London council estate with her older sister Pauline. His Jamaican mother had various jobs to keep the single-parent family afloat; She only really developed a relationship with her father in her late teens, after a life-changing trip to the hair salon revealed that she had two brothers living nearby. Hutchinson became a father for the first time at age 20 and worked in IT in the city for 25 years before becoming a sports coach.

Street artist Lionel Stanhope painting a mural depicting Patrick Hutchinson in Lewisham, south London, in August.
Street artist Lionel Stanhope painting a mural depicting Patrick Hutchinson in Lewisham, south London, in August. Photograph: Peter Nicholls / Reuters

Now he has PR, a manager, and an editor, and finds himself in a realm of modern fame and influence that he hopes to spin forever. Hutchinson has received calls from Reverend Al Sharpton and Prince Harry. He has met Michaela Coel and Reggie Yates and has appeared in GQ Y Men’s health. Sadiq Khan wrote him a personal letter of thanks, while Lord Michael Hastings, a fellow Crusader, is now his mentor. “It’s been phenomenal,” he says, still processing the whirlwind of the past few months.

Commentators have pounced on Hutchinson’s image as one that demonstrates the strength of unity over division, of human kindness over brutality. Hutchinson is uncomfortable with some of the praise, knowing full well that racism has not been alleviated by turning the other cheek.

“Some people have asked me why I bothered to save him and I understand their frustration,” he says. But my natural instinct is to protect the vulnerable. If that man had died, the entire Black Lives Matter movement would have been torpedoed. Young black men would have gone to jail and their lives would have been ruined. He wasn’t just protecting that guy, he was protecting us. “

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