A Black Cop Helped A White Supremacist In A Moment Of Need

This past Saturday, just weeks after a brutal hate crime in Charleston, SC, took the lives of nine people, the state was again the center of racial tension. The KKK and the New Black Panther Party held competing rallies outside the Capitol, from which the Confederate flag was recently removed. The two groups clashed, five were arrested, and at least seven were treated for injuries. But one photo from the event is going viral today, for showcasing a tiny silver lining of compassion.

It was a punishingly hot day, with temperatures in the 90s, and the heat proved to be too much for one elderly white man wearing a National Socialist Movement T-shirt. Leroy Smith, the director of South Carolina's Department of Public Safety, who is Black, helped the man get to the shade in order to cool down.

Rob Godfrey
, who works in the office of Gov. Nikki Haley, snapped the picture, which he shared that day on Twitter with the caption "not an uncommon example of humanity in SC: Leroy Smith helps white supremacist to shelter & water as heat bears down."


Smith emailed R29 a statement, in which he wrote, "I have been somewhat surprised by how this photo has taken off and gone viral around the world. Even though I serve as the director of this agency, I consider myself like every other officer who was out there braving the heat on Saturday to preserve and protect. The photo that was captured just happened to be of me."

Correction: An early version of this article implied the KKK rally took place in Charleston. While the shooting occurred in Charleston, the rally was held in the state's capitol, Columbia.