As Salon reported last week, the image of NYPD officer Larry Deprimo giving a pair of new boots to a homeless man in Times Square became an online sensation when the NYPD posted the tourist's photo to Facebook. The reality of how the story played out, however, further illustrates that one heartwarming picture can offer a misleading narrative about the challenges of homelessness in New York.
The New York Times found the homeless man in the picture -- identified him as Jeffrey Hillman -- wandering in Manhattan Sunday night, once again barefoot. He told the paper, when asked about the boots he had been gifted, "they are worth a lot of money." He also noted that despite being grateful for DePrimo's gift, he wanted a "piece of the pie" with regards to his Internet fame, as his image was posted "without permission."
CORRECTION: A previous version of this story stated that Hillman had sold his boots; this has not been verified and The New York Times reports that Hillman in fact hid the boots.