It created a flurry of media attention last week when NYPD police officer Larry DePrimo went out of his way to acquire one homeless man, Jeffrey Hillman a pair of boots after coming across the homeless man on the street sans shoes in the freezing NY winter.
At the time the gesture was caught on film by a random passerby, Arizona tourist, Jennifer Foster, and consequently after appearing in the NY Times, the photo went viral, with Officer DePrimo even earning himself loud applause from NYC residents and the police department itself.
Unfortunately the thanks and the good will of the gesture may now be short lived as the nytimes is now reporting that Jeffrey Hillman is now wandering the streets of NYC without his shoes.
Asked about the $100 all weather boots, Hillman says he has hidden them because ‘they are worth a lot of money.’
“Those shoes are hidden. They are worth a lot of money. I could lose my life.”
“I was put on YouTube, I was put on everything without permission. What do I get? This went around the world, and I want a piece of the pie.”
Although grateful for the gift (really?) he now says he wants a ‘piece of the pie’ because the photo was posted online without his permission.
nytimes: Mr. Hillman said he came to New York about a decade ago and had been on the streets most of that time. He moves about Manhattan, he said, not frequenting any particular neighborhood. On Sunday, he was making his way from the Upper West Side to Times Square.
If it rained, he added, he might seek refuge on a train.
And there’s this too:
He was reluctant to talk about how he ended up on the streets, staring blankly ahead when asked how his life went off course.
After a long pause, he shook his head and said, “I don’t know.”
Ultimately one has to wonder if Mr Hillman sold his shoes to acquire means to sustain his situation (and unfortunately that does include possibly narcotics and or alcohol) or whether he’s deep in the throes of mental illness that has debilitated his ability to see that if he is to indeed get ahead in life he will indeed need to preserve himself, and that does mean wearing shoes.
Of course it could also mean Mr Hillman just wants to stay homeless and isn’t ready to accept his lot or to make the painful shift to normalcy again. Or it could also be a sign that a pair of shoes although a good start is just never enough to get the homeless of the streets and that ultimately society need to seriously address the underlying reasons as to how individuals like Mr HIllman fell through the cracks and are unable to get resurrect themselves…
Reflected one commentator on the web that caught my attention:
Well in calif reagan closed all the mental health facilities thus a large surge of mentally ill people on the streets and lets face it they arent voters so no one truly cares what happens and were all so stresed about our own health care or lack of leaves little energy to advocate for the homeless?