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Black Policeman Assists White Protester at KKK Rally

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There were many images of hate at the Ku Klux Klan rally held at the South Carolina Statehouse on Saturday. But amidst scenes of such intolerance, the most memorable image from the day was one of compassion and humanity: a black policeman giving a helping hand to a white protester in need of medical attention. The photo has been retweeted almost six thousand times.
The image, posted by Twitter user Rob Godfrey, shows black police officer Leroy Smith leading an older man out of the beating sun. The party flag of the National Socialist Movement, the largest and most active neo-Nazi group in the United States, can be seen on the man’s t-shirt. He is said to have been struggling with the heat, which hit the high 90s in Columbia on Saturday, when Smith came to his aid.
As many as two thousand people gathered at the Statehouse for two separate rallies. The North Carolina-based Loyal White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan demonstrated outside the Capitol in protest of the removal the Confederate flag from the Statehouse grounds earlier this month. The removal of the Confederate symbol marks the end of decades of deep-rooted controversy over the banner in South Carolina, where it has been a perennial political issue and a reminder of racial division.
The debate gained steam after the hate-slayings of Sen. Clementa Pinckney and 8 other church-goers at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church last month. The white gunman, 21-year-old Dylann Roof, poses with a handgun and the Confederate flag in pictures on his website The Last Rhodesian. Police say that the massacre was intended to incite a race war.

The Black Educators for Justice from Jacksonville, FL, gathered for a counter-demonstration. Tensions flared as supporters of the Ku Klux Klan and the New Black Panther Party clashed on statehouse grounds. State police intervened to separate protesters and counter-protestors, but skirmishes still erupted and five people were reportedly arrested before the rally was shut down.
Smith, who has been praised for his professionalism, has worked in law enforcement for 25 years and is currently the director of the South Carolina Department of Public Safety. CNN reports that Smith was the official who received the flag from patrol officers after it was lowered from a pole by the soldiers’ monument at the emotional ceremony on July 10.

Aaron Waterhouse

Aaron is a recent English graduate from Durham University who is now working as a content writer intern. An enthusiastic traveller, he hopes to become a journalist and report from around the world. Follow him @AaronAtSMF

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Black Policeman Assists White Protester at KKK Rally Reviewed by Aaron Waterhouse on Tuesday, July 21, 2015 Rating: 5

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