The Refugee Photographer Behind Donald Trump Jr.'s Skittles Photo Is All Kinds Of Annoyed
Believe it or not, there's even more wrong with Donald Trump Jr.'s Skittles tweet. Besides the xenophobic, racist rhetoric, he (or the Trump campaign, whoever made the image used in the tweet) did not get the rights of the photo from the photographer. They took it from Twitter without permission. And in the peak of irony, Trump's Skittles image was photographed by a former refugee, who has an important message to share about his background.
David Kittos, the photographer is in his '40s and is from Guildford, United Kingdom. He gave an interview to the BBC. He said the image was used without his permission, and he would not have sold the rights for this purpose, even if they'd offered to pay. Here's why:
In 1974, when I was six-years old, I was a refugee from the Turkish occupation of Cyprus so I would never approve the use of this image against refugees. I am now a British citizen but I am Greek-Cypriot by birth ... We lived in the area of Cyprus that is now under Turkish military control. We had to leave everything behind overnight. Our property and our possessions.
BBC News reported that he's an amateur photographer, and wasn't photographing Skittles for any reason other than photography practice. "This was six years ago when there were no Syrian refugees at the time and it was never done with the intention of spreading a political message," he told BBC. Evidently he was trying out a technique called "off-camera flash."
The tweet caused quite a firestorm on social media. At least 65,000 responses mentioned the issue. Responses across the board painted it as offensive, wrong, and poorly written. Mars Corp., the parent company of Skittles, even commented, saying that Skittles are not people, and shouldn't be compared to a humanitarian crisis.
For Kittos, it's not just a question of bad taste or a discriminatory remark. It's also a legal question. Asked whether he would sue, he told the BBC he has thought about it but probably won't as he doesn't have the patience. That said, he would like the campaign to delete the tweet: "This isn't about the money for me. They could have just bought a cheap image from a micro stock library? This is pure greed from them. I don't think they care about my feelings. They should not be stealing an image full stop."
Given the Trump family's inability to admit any wrongdoing, don't expect that image to come down anytime soon.