Rob Godfrey via The Associated Press, file
In this July 18, 2015 photo provided by Rob Godfrey, police officer Leroy Smith, left, helps a man wearing National Socialist Movement attire up the stairs during a rally in Columbia, S.C. Smith, the director of South Carolina’s public safety agency, said Monday, July 20, 2015, he hopes the photo that shows him helping the white man wearing a racist T-shirt will be a catalyst for people to work toward overcoming hate and violence.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — The black director of South Carolina's public safety agency says he hopes a photo that shows him helping a white man wearing a racist T-shirt will be a catalyst for people to work toward overcoming hate and violence.

Director Leroy Smith said Monday in a statement that he's surprised the photo taken of him during Saturday's Ku Klux Klan rally at the Statehouse went viral.

The photo taken by Gov. Nikki Haley's spokesman shows Smith leading the unidentified man, who is suffering from the heat, to shade at the top of the Statehouse steps. The man has a swastika on his T-shirt.

Smith says the attention shouldn't be on him. He says the photo captures "who we are in South Carolina" and represents what law enforcement is all about: helping people.