The state of South Carolina reeled from what many perceived was an unfair defamation of the Confederate Battle Flag. After a photograph emerged of the perpetrator of the Charleston massacre alongside the Confederate Battle Flag, opponents of the flag quickly framed the Civil War era icon as having played a role in the violence the young man committed.
At the same time, it cannot be argued that some supporters of the flag have in fact adopted it as a symbol of their hatred and perceived superiority. This is because among the defenders of the flag were found white supremacist groups such as the Ku Klux Klan (KKK). Also, an overwhelming majority of black people in the state view the flag not as a symbol of heritage or Southern pride, but as a vestige of slavery, hatred, and racism.
As supporters of the flag converged on the state capitol to voice their opposition to the removal of the flag from state capitol grounds, police officers were tasked with maintaining public order. It wasn’t an easy task for any of the officers and perhaps more so for those which are African-American.
In the following photo, which has since gone viral, Officer Leroy Smith is seen escorting an ailing white supremacist who was overcome by the heat. The man was in need of water to hydrate. He was also visibly struggling to maintain balance due to the heat exposure. The image of a Black man coming to the aid of a racist has since gone viral. It underscores the dichotomy of one group of people’s patient struggle against another group’s often irrational support for a symbol of hatred.