They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Some, though, are worth much more than that…The photograph of the heroic figure emerging from the baying mob in central London last weekend with an injured man slung over his shoulder was certainly an unforgettable image.
One was the hero, Patrick Hutchinson; the other was the individual he rescued, Bryn Male; both fathers of three children – which is where any similarity between them ended.
Mr Hutchinson, 49, was a Black Lives Matter supporter. Mr Male, 55, had a shaven head and a Millwall tattoo. Witnesses said he drunkenly declared ‘f*** Black Lives Matter’ before being punched and kicked by rival demonstrators.
Had Mr Hutchinson not intervened by carrying him away from danger, we could well have been referring to Mr Male in the past tense today.
‘It’s not black v white. It’s everyone v the racists,’ is how Mr Hutchinson eloquently described his own personal philosophy on Instagram, winning praise from politicians and the public alike.
Had Mr Hutchinson not intervened by carrying him away from danger, we could well have been referring to Mr Male in the past tense today. Pictured: Patrick Hutchinson carries Bryn Male to safety during a Black Lives Matter demonstration on June 13
Mr Male, meanwhile spoke out for the first time yesterday to thank his rescuer, insisting he would not be alive if it weren’t for Mr Hutchinson’s bravery.
He said: ‘I would love to shake that man’s hand. He saved my life.’
Not everyone agrees with the tactics of Black Lives Matter (BLM), vandalising statues and protesting in the middle of a pandemic. Such views do not make someone a racist, either, as hardcore BLM members would like us to believe.
Yet, whichever side of the debate people find themselves on, there can’t be many who failed to be moved by the quiet gallantry of Patrick Hutchinson as he fought through the chaos to rescue Mr Male. The episode became the defining moment of the riot; two men from very different worlds thrown violently together by fate at the scene of a fracas on a set of stairs near the Royal Festival Hall, on the South Bank.
By then two tribes had converged on the capital. Several thousand protesters, almost entirely white and male, shouting football chants, were belting out Rule, Britannia in ‘patriotic unity’ ostensibly to prevent war memorials being torn down, but also taking advantage of the opportunity to hurl bottles and beer cans at the thin blue line.
They were kept from a younger, more diverse crowd supporting BLM by police in riot gear on horseback.
Some people might find 6ft 1in personal trainer Mr Hutchinson an intimidating presence, wearing a mask and gloves and dressed all in black. He can certainly take care of himself. The former IT consultant is a martial arts expert – but his relatives insist ‘he wouldn’t hurt a fly’.
Mr Male, 55, had a shaven head and a Millwall tattoo. Witnesses said he drunkenly declared ‘f*** Black Lives Matter’ before being punched and kicked by rival demonstrators
He lives in Wimbledon, south-west London, works with athletes at the Hercules Wimbledon Athletics club, and has a grown-up daughter and two younger ones, Sidena, ten, and Kendal, eight.
On Instagram, he talks of their sporting achievements and posts videos in which he leads Sidena and Kendal in energetic ‘Workout with the Hutch family’ routines, prompting one viewer to remark: ‘This is the cutest workout.’
Doesn’t this snapshot alone tell you the kind of man Mr Hutchinson is? He went to the demo as an unpaid ‘peacekeeper’ to make sure BLM protesters came to no harm. He had been asked to do so by a friend who runs a private security firm.
Under different circumstances, he would never have met delivery driver Bryn Male.
Mr Male, who lives in Basingstoke, Hampshire, with his second wife and son, is a former British Transport Police detective constable who is also thought to have been on the robbery squad in the Nineties. He spent a significant part of his 20-year career, before retiring in 2014, investigating football hooligans under cover. He is said to have infiltrated Millwall’s notorious Bushwackers.
‘They had been causing trouble around the country for a long time,’ said a colleague. ‘They were a nightmare. The worst of them were among the most feared, if not the most feared, in Britain.
‘Bryn was perfect. He looked the part. He was intelligent and quick- witted and was able to blend in. He did well at first. He got their trust and he was in. But he must have lost his way because he went native. He got too close to them. In the end, he had to be pulled out.’ Judging by the company he was keeping last weekend – and his Millwall football shirt – he is still very much a Millwall supporter.
Patrick Hutchinson’s biggest fear was that Mr Male ‘would have ended up being killed’. He said later: ‘The narrative would have switched to BLM protesters killing a white man’
Witnesses said Mr Male, who was described as ‘visibly inebriated’, told a rival protester to ‘f*** off, nobody cares’ before he was attacked and fell to the ground.
Enter Patrick Hutchinson. ‘It was pretty hectic,’ he told Channel 4 News. ‘It was almost like a stampede. I thought, “If he stays here he is not going to make it”. His life was under threat so I scooped him up and started marching towards the police. It was scary. But… you do what you have to do.’
His biggest fear was that Mr Male ‘would have ended up being killed’. He said later: ‘The narrative would have switched to BLM protesters killing a white man.’
His ‘heroic’ behaviour went viral. His Instagram post has had more than 43,000 likes. ‘After all the controversy about the statues, how about putting one up in Parliament Square recreating Mr Hutchinson’s act,’ wrote one admirer. ‘And on the plaque should be The Hollies’ song title, “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother”.’
Mr Male has received a very different reaction. He is vice-chairman of Chineham Village Club. But for how much longer? A petition to remove him has 380 signatures.
The ‘Get rid of Bryn Male’ campaign says: ‘On June 13 we all witnessed an honourable man, Patrick Hutchinson, carrying an injured stranger to safety. We are now aware that the injured man was Bryn Male. We cannot allow those… attitudes to be part of the club.’
The private members’ club, which has over 850 members, hosts bingo nights and shows all major sporting events on a big screen.
Mr Male’s profile on the club website jokes that he is ‘chairman of vice’, adding: ‘A member of the club since 2002 Bryn spends most of his time holding court in the Sports Bar. Millwall Fan.’
Friends said he was ‘England through and through’. ‘Bryn also loves his football and his beer,’ said family friend John O’Brien. ‘I know he would have been very angry about threats to the statues.
‘He’ll probably say he was there to protect them and that he’s a patriot, but this was a get-together with all his Millwall pals on the drink more than anything else. He was barely able to defend himself, never mind Winston Churchill.’
Initially, Mr Hutchinson said he would like to meet Mr Male – but that was before it was revealed that he was a former police officer.
On Thursday night, Mr Hutchinson shared a post by another Instagram user which branded the revelation ‘absolutely disgusting’.
But few people doubt that if he’d known this beforehand, he would still have saved Mr Male. Would Mr Male have done the same?
Additional reporting: Tim Stewart and Nic North