The battle between black activists and the Ku Klux Klan over the Confederate flag in South Carolina this weekend was labeled an ugly affair. But a surprisingly tender moment, captured on camera, is making waves. The image shows an African American police officer, identified as 25-year law enforcement veteran Leroy Smith, assisting a heat-stricken protester up the steps of the statehouse and into the shade as temps soared to 98 degrees, reports Yahoo. The man is seen wearing a shirt with the logo of neo-Nazi group the National Socialist Movement Party, complete with swastika. "Not an uncommon example of humanity in SC: Leroy Smith helps white supremacist to shelter & water as heat bears down," photographer Rob Godfrey, Gov. Nikki Haley's deputy chief of staff, wrote in a tweet of the image.
The post quickly spread—it's been retweeted almost 5,000 times—with people praising Smith for his professionalism in the face of hatred. "Props to Officer Leroy Smith for fighting racism in the classiest, most dignified way possible," wrote one user. "You are my hero sir," wrote another. A city rep tells the New York Daily News that Smith "had observed that the person appeared to be feeling ill from the heat and needed assistance." In a statement afterward, Smith said simply, "We want to thank the multiple law enforcement agencies involved today for an excellent response, and for assistance in keeping protesters and those on the grounds safe." Fox 8 reports the protester was believed to be a member of North Carolina's Loyal White Knights of the KKK. (Click for more on the rally.)