In-crowd fighting led to at least three arrests outside the South Carolina Capitol Saturday after members of a Ku Klux Klan chapter clashed with an African-American group protesting the Confederate flag. The rally, organized by the The Loyal White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, a chapter based in Pelham, North Carolina, coincided with a rally organized by a Jacksonville, Florida, group called Black Educators for Justice. The overlapping rallies led to a number of conflicts between the two groups and onlookers in the area.
A crowd of nearly 2000 gathered outside the statehouse, according to the South Carolina Highway Patrol. After standing on the capitol steps, KKK members moved to a private rally to conduct a cross burning. Anti-KKK protesters followed the group as they moved down the streets, with one group of protesters burning a Confederate flag. The Post and Courier reported the State Law Enforcement Division was out in full force in tactical gear. Police were quick to intervene and make arrests as fights broke out.
Tensions ran high as KKK members were overheard shouting racist messages. Vice News reported a man was heard shouting, "Jesus Christ said no mixing." A teary-eyed 10-year-old said: "I don't like it. I think the KKK should go. It's not right."
— dgatterdam (@dgatterdam) July 18, 2015
A 10 year old African-American boy sobbing at a KKK rally should be a strong indicator of the unfair racial treatment/bias in this country
— MABEL LAWTON (@megsmxth) July 18, 2015
Amid the tension and clashes, the sight of an African-American officer helping a white supremacist became one of the day's most widely shared scenes on Twitter.
not an uncommon example of humanity in SC: Leroy Smith helps white supremacist to shelter & water as heat bears down. pic.twitter.com/GoF23r3mRe
— Rob Godfrey (@RobGodfrey) July 18, 2015
@Breaking3zeroUS That Pic/Story about the black officer helping the KKK member with sunstroke is so great. And so is that officer
— Michael D. (@Resstepo) July 18, 2015
— Bijan C. Bayne (@bijancbayne) July 18, 2015
South Carolina became the focal point of a debate over the place of the Confederate flag following a racially motivated shooting inside a black church by Dylann Roof, 21. State legislators voted to remove the flag from outside the Capitol earlier this month. On Thursday, the South Carolina House decided public monuments to the Confederacy would not be removed.