The viral Skittles bowl photo the Trump campaign used to vilify refugees was a refugee

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When David Kittos took a photo of a bowl full of Skittles a few years ago, he was experimenting with an off-camera flash in his home studio. He was proud of the way the light shone on the colorful candy, so he posted the shot to Flickr.

Kittos definitely didn't expect to wake up this morning and see his photo used in a refugee-bashing tweet by the scion of the Republican nominee for president:


There are many problems with the tweet. (Notably, Americans only have a one in 3.6 billion chance of being killed in a terrorist attack by a refugee, according to a Cato Institute study of terrorist attacks over the last 40 years.)

But another issue with Trump Jr.'s use of the photo is that Kittos himself is a refugee. "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," he told the BBC today. "This was not done with my permission, I don't support his politics and I would never take his money to use it."


Kittos, 48, is now a British citizen living in Guildford, a London suburb. He grew up as a Greek Cypriot in the northeastern part of the island, which is now controlled by a Turkish-backed government. When the Turkish army invaded in the summer of 1974, following a coup d'etat by the Greek military junta, between 140,000 and 200,000 Greek Cypriots were displaced. Six-year-old Kittos was one of them. "We had to leave everything behind overnight," he said. (40,000 to 65,000 Turkish-Cypriots were later displaced from the south.)

It seems Trump Jr. didn't know Kittos' background when he or someone from the Trump campaign used the photo. The photo's page on Flickr clearly notes "all rights reserved," which means that the tweet could be a copyright violation if Jr. didn't get permission to use it.

Wrigley, the company that owns Skittles, has also spoken out about the tweet, with a spokesperson telling The Hollywood Reporter that "Skittles are a candy. Refugees are people. We don’t feel it’s an appropriate analogy."

Kittos says he wants the Trump campaign to delete the tweet, but noted to the BBC that "they are probably not interested in what I have to say."


We've reached out to the Trump campaign to ask if Jr. knew that the photo was taken by a refugee, and why he didn't get Kittos' permission. We'll update the post if we hear back.

Casey Tolan is a National News Reporter for Fusion based in New York City.