An image of a black law official helping a white supremacist suffering from heat exhaustion at a KKK rally has gone viral.
Leroy Smith, who is the director of South Carolina’s public safety agency, was photographed aiding the man, who was wearing a Swastika emblazoned t-shirt.
After the image went viral, Smith says he hopes it will be a catalyst for people to work toward overcoming hate and violence.
In a statement he said the image captured "who we are in South Carolina" and represents what law enforcement is all about: helping people "regardless of the person's skin color, 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.
The man being aided by Smith was treated by local emergency workers.
@Seven_Duece He is a professional and did what he was trained to do. Color has nothing to do with his job. White dude will never forget it.— Carl Collins (@CarlCollins9) July 19, 2015
— Parthiban Shanmugam (@hollywoodcurry) July 19, 2015ADVERTISEMENT
To be a good human being is to always do the right thing even when it's sometimes for the wrong person. http://t.co/KDzIoLJg8C— David D. Griffith (@DDGriffith) July 21, 2015
The photo shows just the hand of black Columbia Fire Chief Aubrey Jenkins, who was also assisting the man.
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.
A 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.
The 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.
Officers from six other state and local law enforcement agencies, in addition to the Department of Public Safety, were present for the dueling rallies.
Governor 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, Senator Clementa Pinckney.
A 21-year-old old white man seen in photos with the Confederate flag is charged with the slayings.