Washington: A photo of a black police officer helping a white supremacist during rival rallies held in the US state of South Carolina by African-Americans and members of the white fanatic group Klu Klux Klan has gone viral and is generating positive reaction.
The photo shows the black officer assisting a man in a National Socialist Movement T-shirt up the statehouse stairs in Columbia.
Rival rallies were held on Saturday by African-Americans and members of the white supremacist group Klu Klux Klan (KKK) to support and oppose, respectively, the recent removal of the Confederate flag from South Carolina State House grounds.
The photo spread through social media after Rob Godfrey, deputy chief of staff to South Carolina's Indian-American Governor Nikki Haley, took the photo and shared it on Twitter with the caption, "not an uncommon example of humanity in South Carolina."
White supremacists were protesting the recent removal of the Confederate flag from South Carolina State House grounds. The Civil War-era battle flag, regarded by many as a bitter symbol of racism and slavery, was taken down on July 10 following protests in the wake of last month's church massacre that left nine African-American worshippers dead.
The New Black Panther Party held a rally there as well. South Carolina's Department of Public Safety estimated 2,000 people attended the events and said five were arrested.
The officer in the photo is Public Safety Director Leroy Smith, Godfrey and a department spokeswoman said.
"He was assisting with crowd control on the stairs where the KKK was rallying," spokeswoman Sherri Iacobelli was quoted as saying by CNN.
Smith was helping the man find shelter and water as temperatures soared into the high 90s.
"He had observed that the person appeared to be feeling ill from the heat and needed assistance," Iacobelli said. "He was helping get him up the stairs the statehouse so that he could receive emergency medical care."
Many praised the officer for his professionalism.
As one person said: "He is a professional and did what he was trained to do. Colour has nothing to do with his job. White dude will never forget it."