The photo of Black Lives Matter protestor Patrick Hutchinson carrying counter-protestor Bryn Male to safety was the defining image of London’s BLM marches in June 2020. Four months later, during Black British history month, Prince Harry took a moment to speak with Hutchinson about furthering antiracism, Hutchinson’s own personal journey, and what it was like being a “guardian angel” at the protests for racial justice.
“There’s lots of work to do but I’m genuinely feeling like the world is actually very much heading in the right direction,” says Harry to Hutchinson in a discussion for British GQ. “But inevitably a lot of the pain has to come to the surface before we can actually turn the page and start the new chapter.”
Hutchinson, a Black man, personal trainer, grandfather, and father of four saw that a counter-protester — white ex-police officer Bryn Male — was in danger during the Black Lives Matter protest outside the Southbank Centre at Waterloo. Without hesitation, Hutchinson’s humanity kicked in and he decided to give Male a fireman’s lift out of a brewing confrontation and carry him to safety.
“That moment when you went to London, what made you go? To me, you seem as some form of guardian angel, and that you were there to protect everybody from that red mist that comes in when you’re acting as a group against another group, is how it came across to me. But what was the plan?” Harry asked.
“Unconscious bias from my understanding, having the upbringing and the education that I had, I had no idea what it was and I had no idea it existed. As sad as it is to say, it took me many many years to to realise it, especially living a day or a week in my wife’s shoes.” — Prince Harry
“That was exactly the reason we went down there,” said Hutchinson. “My friends, like Jermaine Facey, he was the main guy that orchestrated us going down there because he had been down to the previous march where the policewoman unfortunately fell off her horse, and the police charged the young protesters with the horse, and I think she fell and hurt herself, and he saw what had happened and he looked around and realised that there were no senior citizens, older heads, or wiser individuals to sort of calm down the youngsters.”
“So, he tried to get a group of us together, we tried to get a lot more than the initial five that was on the day. There were only five of us that came to the cry, so we went down there as a group and we were really just there to oversee things and make sure those young protestors wouldn’t do anything they would regret later on. That was the main reason we were there. . . It wasn’t just us protecting the young Black protestors, it was us protecting everybody, and as it turned out, somebody on the other side. At the end of the day, at that moment in time, you forget about people’s anything else and you want to do what’s right in that particular moment.”
Hutchinson carrying Male to safety. Getty Images.
“So, it was instinct that made you act on saving his life and potentially being trampled on, or whatever could have happened in that moment,” Harry commented. “But did you feel relieved? Was there a sense of pride afterwards? I mean, you would have done it over and over again, you would have done it for anyone at any time.”
“Both. We were pleased we were able to avert a potentially serious situation,” Hutchinson said. “I would do it for anybody and I would do it time and time again. It’s just not something you think about. I know [Harry] you’ve been in the armed forces and seen some things that lots of us haven’t seen. For me, it’s just like a mentality, something you just have within you. You don’t worry about your own personal self or wellbeing. You just go in and do what you have to do and then afterwards, you think, ‘how did I do that?’, but when adrenaline kicks in, there’s no fear.”
“The fact that we have to be in a situation where we have to protest about something that is so obvious in life. It’s frustrating,” said Hutchinson in the latter half of the discussion. “It just makes you wonder why people find it so hard to understand. What we’re all striving for, the equality side of things and why they find it hard to understand, I struggle with that. Just like the situation between Ashley Banjo and diversity. When you see something like that and you see the amount of complaints, it really brings home how much work we have to do because there are a lot of people who either don’t think it exists or they don’t want change and they are fighting against it and I don’t know what these people are scared of, or afraid of.”
“You talk about unconscious bias, which both you and I know is a huge thing globally and yes, it exists in the UK as well,” Harry agreed. “But I think that with the Ashley Banjo stuff, Meghan and I spoke to him shortly after that whole process. That whole moment in his life and Diversity’s life. What was interesting there from what I was told is that there were a couple of thousand complaints that came straight after the performance. But it was three days later, or a week later, that it came up to twenty thousand. So you start to think, how many people actually watched the performance that have complained, or have they just had their opinion inflamed by what they read because as we know the information that is put in front of us, they choose how to deliver it, and it can come with an element of bias or it can come with a sensationalist headline that just aggravates people. . . For the amount of complaints that came in, it just proves the point that this discussion needs more talking about, and no one is blaming anybody. How I look at it, nobody’s pointing the fingers, you can’t really point the fingers when it comes to unconscious bias. But once you realise and you feel a little bit uncomfortable then the onus is on you to go out and educate yourself as much because ignorance is no longer an excuse.”
“Unconscious bias from my understanding, having the upbringing and the education that I had, I had no idea what it was and I had no idea it existed. As sad as it is to say, it took me many many years to to realise it, especially living a day or a week in my wife’s shoes,” said Harry.
Watch the full discussion between Prince Harry and Patrick Hutchinson above.