Bill Handel

Bill Handel

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Was This Photo From the Charlottesville protest?

If you saw this photo in your Twitter feed this weekend, you probably had the same reaction we did, thinking how disgusting, horrible and sad it was to see. 

Since the photo circulated this weekend, many believed it was taken during the Charlottesville, Virginia protest this weekend, and they shared and re-tweeted it on social media.

What some don't know is that the photo is NOT from this weekend.  

Journalist David Griner, wrote about the origin of the picture in an article for Poynter back in 2013.

The photo was actually taken almost 25 years ago, on September 5, 1992, during a KKK rally in Gainesville, Georgia, and it appeared in the pages of The Gainesville Times.

The man who took the photo, Todd Robertson, said that he was a backup photographer that day, and while most photographers were focused on potential conflict and the speakers at the rally, a mother and her two young boys, dressed in a KKK robe and hat, caught his eye, so he focused on them.

From the article in Poynter:  

"One of the boys approached the state trooper, who was holding his riot shield on the ground.  Seeing his reflection, the boy reached for the shield, and Robertson snapped the photo.  Almost immediately, the mother swooped in and took away the toddler, whom she identified to Robertson as 'Josh'.  The moment was fleeting, and almost no one noticed it, but Robertson had captured it on film."

Robertson said his boss told him initially that his photos weren't worth developing because the main photographer had caught enough good photos that day.  

So, he developed them on his own and while showing them to co-workers, the managing editor walked by and grabbed it and said, 'We're running this photo."

It appeared in the paper, the Associated Press picked it up, and then Robertson said he thought the photo's life was pretty much over.

In 1999, The Southern Poverty Law Center featured the photo prominently in one of their pamphlets, and since, it's popped up at various times over the years, especially after 2011, when sharing photos on social media became popular.

The photo usually sparks a commentary on whether it is "cute, sad, or disturbing." 

Here's what a few bloggers have said about it over the years. 

"It's cute. This kid has no idea how to hate yet.  If he becomes 'the next white supremacist generation' it won't be his fault"

"I have stared at this picture and wondered what must have been going through that Trooper's mind. Before the Trooper is an innocent child who is being taught to hate him because of the color of his skin. The child doesn't understand what he is being taught, and at this point he doesn't seem to care."

"You can see the troopers feel sorry for this kid.  You could tell that kid did not know the difference between that day and Halloween."

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