Photo: Is this the most powerful image from the aftermath of the Charleston shootings?
Published 23/06/2015 | 13:01
Last Sunday, a photographer and father captured an intensely powerful image of an interaction borne of the Charleston Shootings.
Last Sunday, following a 'Charleston United' prayer gathering to honour the victims of the shooting, photographer John Nettles spotted two women holding signs that read 'Free Hugs... #CharlestonStrong'.
His three-year-old son, Parker, ran to one of the women and hugged her and Nettles snapped the photo, not realising the power the image would hold.
Nettles later posted the photograph of the hug between Parker and South Carolinian Taylor Willis pn his Facebook page and the image quickly went viral.
In the caption, he wrote:
"This picture was hard to take and hard to edit...because Parker doesn't understand how powerful that hug is. To him it's just a hug. He doesn't understand that he's hugging a black woman and that he's a white boy".
!He doesn't understand that just last week there was another white boy who decided to murder several black people - just because they're black. To him, it's just a hug with another person".
"It's probably the most beautiful hug I've ever witnessed".
Speaking to the Huffington Post, Nettles said that he and his wife have been trying to "reinforce love and kindness" with their son throughout the painful time in their hometown. "He's only 3 and doesn't have a true understanding of death and especially not murder, but he does understand when something is done out of hate or to be mean. He really does have a gentle heart and, at least for now, love and kindness seem to come naturally to him."
Nettles told the Huffington Post that he has been "amazed" by the reaction of Charleston. "The way my city has responded to the hate is ... the start of something greater in this country".
"The world expects violence, riots, bitterness and more hate, but we are doing a wonderful job of showing how love wins".
"I'm so glad Charleston is responding this way because... we're securing a better tomorrow through our strength today."
Dylann Roof(21) has been charged with nine counts of murder for the attack on a historic black South Carolina church with media reporting that he had hoped his actions 'would incite a race war' in the United States.
Dylann Storm Roof, 21, spent nearly an hour inside the church last night before killing six women and three men, including the pastor. A citizen spotted his car in North Carolina and tipped off police, Chief Greg Mullen said.
Charleston mayor Joseph P Riley Jr called it "pure, pure concentrated evil".
NAACP president and CEO Cornell William Brooks said "there is no greater coward than a criminal who enters a house of God and slaughters innocent people".
The attack came two months after the fatal shooting of an unarmed black man, Walter Scott, by a white police officer in neighbouring North Charleston that sparked major protests and highlighted racial tensions in the area.