'It was my duty to help' says black officer who helped white supremacist at Ku Klux Klan rally
Published 21/07/2015 | 13:17
A black police officer pictured helping an ailing white supremacist at a Ku Klux Klan rally in South Carolina has been praise for his comments that “it was his duty to help people – regardless of their skin colour or beliefs.”
Officer Leroy Smith was working at the rally last weekend helping with crowd control when a KKK protester asked him to help two men who appeared to be suffering from heat-related issues.
While assisting the men, a staff member for South Carolina governor Rob Godfrey took a photo of Mr Smith and posted it online.
Speaking about the image, the veteran police officer said he was “somewhat surprised by how the photo had gone viral”
“I consider myself like every other officer who was out there braving the heat on Saturday to preserve and protect,” he said in a statement.
“Our men and women in uniform are on the front lines every day helping people – regardless of the person’s skin color, nationality or beliefs.
“As law enforcement officers, service is at the heart of what we do.”
The image shows Officer Smith helping a heat-stricken man, who is wearing a shirt promoting the National Socialist Movement Party and bearing a swastika.
“I believe this photo captures who we are in South Carolina and represents what law enforcement is all about.
“I 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,” he added.
The Ku Klux Klan and the New Black Panther Party were demonstrating on Saturday at the state Capitol, following the recent decision to remove the Confederate flag from Statehouse grounds.
Clashes reportedly led to at least five arrests and at least seven people were taken to hospitals, mostly from heat-related injuries.