“That’s not what we do!”
Reuters photographer Dylan Martinez heard the words ring out during chaotic scenes in London on Saturday, when mostly peaceful anti-racist demonstrations turned into violent scuffles with counter-protesters in the area.
Then he saw the man who had uttered them – a black protester emerging from the melee carrying an injured white man in a ‘fireman’s lift’ over his shoulder.
The picture he took has gone viral on social media and featured in news bulletins, capturing a moment of high drama that jars with the broader narrative – of anti-racist and far-right protesters fighting each other.
“I saw a skirmish and someone falling to the ground,” Martinez recalled of the moment near Waterloo Bridge, in central London, as he covered anti-racism protests that have flared up in the city.
The two men then appeared through the crowd.
“The crowd parted right in front of me. I was in the right place at right time, and incredibly lucky from that point of view. He came towards me walking briskly.”
Martinez said the man being carried had injuries to his face, and Reuters journalists at the scene said he had been beaten in a skirmish with anti-racism protesters.
Some people in the crowd shouted out that the assault victim was a member of the far-right.
Police said they were aware of the incident and the photograph, but made no further comment on the details of the men’s identity and what happened.
Protests have erupted across British cities and around the world after a black man, George Floyd, died in police custody in Minneapolis on May 25.
In some cases they have sparked counter-demonstrations by people who do not agree with all of their aims and methods, and these have included people from far-right groups.
British media identified the black man as Patrick Hutchinson, a personal trainer. On his social media account, he wrote: “We saved a life today”.
In a statement on Sunday police said 113 people had been arrested over the weekend and 23 officers were injured in the violence, none of them seriously.
The reaction on social media to the picture and events it portrayed has been largely positive.
“Amid all the ugliness, a beautiful moment of humanity,” wrote British journalist Piers Morgan in a Tweet accompanying the photograph.