A tense day was set to unfold on Saturday in Colorado as white supremacy groups spearheaded by the Ku Klux Klan and mostly black social equality supporters led by the Black Panthers were set to hold rallies concomitantly. Despite the violence never morphing into anything more than a few separate and isolated brawls, a high amount of negativity unfurled as flags burned, racially slurs were shouted and Nazi salutes were made in front the state capitol building.
This was briefly interrupted by a moment of humanity when black officer Leroy Smith, director of South Carolina’s Department of Public Safety, helped a white supremacy demonstrator in his 50’s after had suffered a heat stroke, guiding him to shelter and offering water. The individual, who remained unidentified, was a wearing a t-shirt which depicted a swastika.
The photo was uploaded to Twitter by South Carolina governor’s deputy chief of staff Rob Godfrey, being shared over 3,000 times and also going viral on Facebook. Officer Smith received overwhelming online praise for his professionalism in dealing with the situation.
The simultaneous demonstrations ended with five arrests and seven people requiring medical treatment, in what could have been a way worse balance when two of the most ideologically opposed groups in United States history came so close to each other. However, tension levels reached expectations as white supremacists hurled racial slurs and imitated gorilla sounds towards their counterparts, while social equality supporters burned multiple Confederate flags and engaged in the shouting war.
Initially, the KKK had booked a rally for Saturday to protest the recent decision of the South Carolina state government, which decided to depose a Confederate war flag which had been posted on capitol grounds for more than half a century, since a past state government stood defiant in front of a growing civil rights movement.
The flag, which was used as a common standard by pro-slavery Confederacy states during the Civil War, has had its position in modern American society questioned intensely as of late. Many equality supporters point out that, beyond encapsulating a certain southern pride and tradition, the flag is historically linked to exploitation and slavery and based on that, displaying it on public grounds should be banned.
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