George Floyd’s Death And The Lives It Changed: 'It's turned my life upside down'

Video report by ITV News Presenter Rageh Omaar

A year on from the murder of George Floyd, ITV News has been touching base with those who came into prominence for their actions and activism following his killing, as part of our series George Floyd’s Death And The Lives It Changed.

One of the defining images from last June's Black Lives Matter demonstrations was that of a black man hauling a white, suspected far-right counter-protester to safety after a fight broke out.

The resulting photo was hailed by many as a sign of hope after it went viral. The rescuer in question, Patrick Hutchinson, has told ITV News he has been inundated with attention and requests throughout the past year.

Alongside media interviews, he chatted to Prince Harry for a GQ summit, released a book and launched charity United to Change and Inspire.

It's exhausting, the personal trainer and grandfather of three says, but he hopes to spin unsolicited fame into global progress for black people.

What was it that compelled you to go out to the BLM protest that day?I hadn't any plans to go but my friends had been talking about a rant that a EDL member had had on social media. Many members of our community and a lot of the young protesters wanted to go down there and meet them head on. We knew that we were young once and we would have been doing the same. We'd previously been involved in the skirmishes with hooligans when we were growing up.

We thought that we needed to be there to oversee younger, more volatile protesters and try to be a force for reason.

Prince Harry and Patrick Hutchinson chat via video call for GQ. Credit: British GQ/PA

That viral photo was deemed by many to be a symbol of hope. Did you get any negative responses as well?

I have had a few young men that have come up to me and said: "Uncle, why did you do it?". I've explained to them: "If you can't respect the fact that I potentially saved the life of another human being, then respect the fact that we potentially stopped four or five of you young men ending up behind bars".

All it takes is one moment where that herd mentality takes over and you do something that could destroy your life.

You came into prominence so suddenly following that photo being taken. What has the past year been like as a result?

It's literally turned my life upside down. There are many, many positives. There are a few negatives. I'm not calling myself a celebrity, but celebrities that are already out there, I have a new found respect for what they go through. I wouldn't wish it on anybody [laughs].

In the same breath, I have a platform now to be able to be part of the change that we're seeking in this country and the world over.What impact, if any, has Mr Floyd’s death and the BLM protests had in Britain?

George will go down in history. Hopefully, 100 years from now when they look at history, they'll say that was a defining moment when things finally changed for the better.In terms of actual, tangible change that we can measure, there's probably not much to be honest. There's lots of flag-waving and nice gestures and stuff, but what has actually changed since then? I can't say.

What inspires you to continue speaking out about racism and racial inequalities?

The fact that things haven't changed compels me to continue to have these discussions. We just need to continue pushing, striving and not allowing things to go silent until we actually feel and taste that change that we all long for.

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