Viral photo : South Carolina’s black official helping man at Ku Klux Klan (KKK) rally

July 21, 2015 9:48 am


officer Leroy Smith, left, helps a man wearing National Socialist
Movement attire up the stairs during a rally in Columbia,
South.Carolina. Photo / AP

The black director of ’s public safety agency said he
was surprised a photo showing him helping a white man wearing a racist
T-shirt went viral. But now that it has, he is hoping it will be a
catalyst for people to work toward overcoming hate and violence.
Smith said in a statement that the photo, taken at a Ku Klux Klan
rally, captured “who we are in South Carolina” and represents what law
enforcement is all about: helping people “regardless of the person’s
skin colour, nationality or beliefs.”
“I consider myself like every other officer who was out there braving the heat on Saturday to preserve and protect,” he said.
photo, taken by Gov. Nikki Haley’s spokesman, shows Smith leading the
unidentified man, who is suffering from the heat, to shade at the top of
the Statehouse steps, to be treated by local emergency workers. The man
has a swastika on his T-shirt.

The photo shows just the hand of black Columbia Fire Chief Aubrey Jenkins, who also was assisting the man.
hope this photo will be a catalyst for people to work to overcome some
of the hatred and violence we have seen in our country in recent weeks,”
Smith said.
The North Carolina-based Loyal White Knights of the
KKK scheduled a rally to protest the removal of the Confederate battle
flag from Statehouse grounds a week earlier. State officials gave the
group permission to rally on the opposite side of the building from
where the flag flew on a 30-foot pole for the past 15 years.
Florida group affiliated with the New Black Panther Party was given
permission to hold a rally on the side where a monument to Confederate
soldiers still stands. The rallies overlapped, and tensions escalated.
Department of Public Safety estimated the crowd, including both groups
and spectators, at roughly 2,000 people at its peak. Five people were
arrested for assault and battery, disorderly conduct or breach of peace.
from six other state and local law enforcement agencies, in addition to
the Department of Public Safety, were present for the dueling rallies.
Nikki Haley called for the flag’s removal, and the Legislature voted to
send it to a museum after nine parishioners of a historic black church
in Charleston were slain, including its pastor, Sen. Clementa Pinckney. A
21-year-old old white man seen in photos with the Confederate flag is
charged with the slayings.

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