Homeless Man Who Got Free Boots From Cop Now 'Wants His Cut' Of YouTube Attention

from the everyone-wants-a-cut dept

Ah, this is what you get when you build up ideas around the idea that every bit of content must be “owned.” You may have heard the somewhat heartwarming story last week of NYPD Officer Lawrence DePrimo, seeing a homeless man in NYC without any shoes on, buying the man some boots and giving them to him. Without either man being aware of it, a tourist from Arizona, Jennifer Foster, saw this happening and took a photo of the situation.

Some people were skeptical of the validity of the image, but after it was confirmed, DePrimo was hailed as a hero and we were once again reminded that not all people photographing police are doing so to embarrass them.

That said, a reporter for the NY Times caught up with the homeless man in question, Jeffrey Hillman, who hasn’t received quite as much attention, only to find that he’s barefoot again, saying that the boots were now hidden for his own safety:

“Those shoes are hidden. They are worth a lot of money,” Mr. Hillman said in an interview on Broadway in the 70s. “I could lose my life.”

From the interview, it appears that Mr. Hillman — who has been homeless for many years — may have plenty of other problems as well. However, in a moment of clarity… he put forth the kind of statement we’re used to hearing all the time around here:

“I was put on YouTube, I was put on everything without permission. What do I get?” he said. “This went around the world, and I want a piece of the pie.”

This is what you get, folks, in a world where you tell everyone that idea, concept, image, etc. must be “owned.”

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Comments on “Homeless Man Who Got Free Boots From Cop Now 'Wants His Cut' Of YouTube Attention”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Response


That’s right. Fuck you, homeless person. Get back in your box and shut the fuck up. Only Silicon Valley tycoons matter in this world. The homeless can go fuck themselves. Don’t they fucking know that the word “property” was set in stone 300 years ago? What fucking idiots. Stupid fucking homeless scum.

Sneeje (profile) says:

Re: Re: Response

Ummm… hi strawman, nice to meet you. No where in DH’s post did he say/imply/whatever that all homeless people should shut up.

His post, is simply saying in response to the guy’s statement about pie, that he did get a piece of the pie–he got shoes.

Since we’re throwing around stawmen here, you obviously believe the homeless guy got shafted. Exactly what do you think the guy should get?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Response

It could be that these people are druggies. He no longer has the boots because he sold them and used the money to buy drugs. Notice how quickly he left as soon as he got the boots. If you don’t know druggies by now than you are naive.

I once had a really nice bike that I no longer used, had it for many many years, and a druggie that I knew bought it for me, and I sold it to him for way under what it was worth. I felt bad for him, he was talking about how he needed a new bike. Next thing I know he sold that bike for more than I sold it to him, used some of the money to buy a very cheap bike (that quickly broke), and who knows what he did with the rest of the money (drugs?). He said he needed the money … he likely saw the bike as an opportunity to buy drugs. BTW, I never offered to sell the bike, he asked me several times if I used it and if he can buy it and I eventually sold it to him.

You have to be careful with druggies. You give the money, they’ll buy drugs. You give them stuff, they’ll sell it for whatever they can get (way below what it’s worth if necessary) to get drugs with. If you think otherwise, I’m sorry, you are naive.

Anonymous Coward says:



Exactly. Why is it that we live in a world where even people without anything aren’t satisfied with someone helping them a bit. Obviously the officer didn’t do this for the attention….

This is one of many reasons why it is so hard to stop and give a dollar to the people on the corner “in need” of it.

Anonymous Coward says:

If the cop had had any common sense, he wouldn’t have given him boots that expensive.

Good boots are nice to walk in and keep your feet warm and dry. They don’t have to cost 100 bucks. People on the street (from druggies to hookers to the homeless) are killed EVERY DAY for way less than 100 bucks or an item of approaching value that can be hocked/fenced/whatever.

I thought a cop would know…

(and I’m not giving him flak for being a good samaritan, it’s just that ‘well meant’ and ‘well done’ are often diametrically opposed.)

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Agreed. For all the whining about looking at his IP address, average_joe does an equally horrendous job at covering his own tracks. He’s publicly admitted that he’s not trying to hide the fact that he’s posting while not logged in, even after promising to leave the site for the rest of the year. It’s like watching a lugworm squirm and flail on a hook before it’s dunked into water as bait to be mauled by fishes.

Wally (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

So it’s bad for a public servant such as Officer DePrimo to give what he can to a homeless man in need????

By the way, your comments about Mike Mansick make me think you’re either schilling for a rival blog post, an absolute failure of a troll, or both…just lay low and cool it. Mike isn’t the only one asking “WTF??” to Hillman’s response.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Yeah, I had that thought too, but it isn’t that simple. If the guy is going to be outside all of the time, there really aren’t cheap boots that you can leave exposed to the elements all of the time.

This is what is so frustrating–you can’t (and shouldn’t) ignore them, but helping is not at all trivial. Money is unengaging and generally creates different problems, bringing them home is risky, giving them things is inflexible and may put them at risk, etc.

kenichi tanaka says:

This story is started to sound like it was deliberately
planted in order to create a copyright lawsuit. When someone becomes the recipient of a generous gift, when they had nothing before, the proper thing to do would be to say “thank you, I’m grateful for the attention” not “what do I get”.

This just shows just how entitled everybody thinks they are and we live in a society where it’s “sue everybody and let the judges sort it out”.

Ungrateful slob, if he’s so concerned about his entitlement, then give back the shoes that he was given.

Erlkoenig says:

I can understand that he’s just trying to use it is a way out of his obviously miserable life. I can’t really blame him for that. However, as I understand it, this was taken in a public area, so…I’m pretty sure he has no rights to it whatsoever. He had no reasonable expectation of privacy or anything. There’s no reason he would have rights to this.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

I can understand that he’s just trying to use it is a way out of his obviously miserable life. I can’t really blame him for that. However, as I understand it, this was taken in a public area, so…I’m pretty sure he has no rights to it whatsoever. He had no reasonable expectation of privacy or anything. There’s no reason he would have rights to this.

Hey fuck you, man. And fuck this lazy bum asshole homeless shitbag who is just a victim of the “intellectual pooperty” culture. He should like living in a box, and shouldn’t try and do anything to improve his life. YouTube should make all the money off the page views. Let this guy eat of trashcans while Mike’s tech buddies eat caviar in their jets. Fuck this guy for trying to rape the internet for his own self interested bullshit. Tech uber alles. Fuck the poor people. The internet cannot be owned. The meaning of the word “property” has not changed in 300 years. Somebody needs to explain that to the fucking homeless.

Machin Shin (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

“He should like living in a box, and shouldn’t try and do anything to improve his life.”

How about showing how the fuck he is trying to improve his life and I might give a damn. All he is doing is bitching that he is not getting more handouts. He got semi famous for someone giving him something and now he is bitching “hey, why is no one giving me more”

Dark Helmet (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

“How about showing how the fuck he is trying to improve his life and I might give a damn. All he is doing is bitching that he is not getting more handouts. He got semi famous for someone giving him something and now he is bitching “hey, why is no one giving me more””

Don’t bother, that’s AJ losing his mind. Anytime you see a reference to his false 300 years property claim, just move on. He’ll likely reply to me here, and you’ll note that I will not engage. Completely devoid of any substance, AJ is now on par with ootb….

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

“AJ is now on par with ootb….”

Well, besides the “completely devoid of any substance” thing, he’s not on par with ootb.

He’s literally gone off the deep end. If Techdirt were a store and we were all employees/customers, AJ, based on his current behavior, would be the guy who just flipped out for no reason whatsoever and started firing away at everyone in the store with an AK.

OotB would be the guy standing outside the store ranting and raving about how the store is horrible and full of shoddy merchandise, which he can’t help but purchase every day to prove his point while pointing at it and going, “See! See! It’s crap! Pure crap that supports big corporations and is funneling money towards the rich! Rabble rabble rabble. I am going to buy more of this crap from this crap store to prove my point about how evil it is!”

Anonymous Coward says:

This is what you get, folks, in a world where you tell everyone that idea, concept, image, etc. must be “owned.”

Yes, all culture is under attack. Intellectual pooperty is to blame. Everyone thinking that they should get a piece of the action when other people profit off of them without recompense. We can use you to profit and you’ll like it. We are the internet generation, douchebag. Deal with it. The internet and my Silicon Valley friends insist that content should be free. You can’t own anything because the meaning of “property” froze 300 years ago. You’ve just been brainwashed by the cartels into thinking that you should have any property rights in the things you spend time, energy, money, and self creating for the enjoyment of others.

Clint (user link) says:

Something to remember about our homeless...

So many of our homeless population is mentally disabled in one way or another. It’s the most disturbing fact in my opinion. While I can’t say that this guy isn’t just a jerk… let’s keep in mind that we don’t know the life situation that put him in the position he is currently in.

At least give him the benefit of the doubt that he might not be a fully functional adult.

Not an Electronic Rodent (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Sadly waaaay too late. The pro “deliberately totally misinterpreting anything with the smallest excuse to try and wind people up”-squad were there before you. You need to work harder to pounce on the smallest excuse for syntactic ambiguity, no matter how feeble, within seconds of posting and buff up your frothing-at-the-mouth virtiol skills to troll up to standard. I’ll give you a C- for effort though.

PaulT (profile) says:

“Those shoes are hidden. They are worth a lot of money”
“What do I get?”

You answered your own question there, I think, and the article suggests that’s not the only free pair of shoes you got for merely sitting on a pavement and looking needy.

Not to sound heartless, but he might want to consider why his response to basic charity being “I want more” is possibly part of the reason why he’s in his position to begin with (although, yes, I understand that most long-term homeless people have greater problems including mental issues).

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Exploiting the fact that he has nothing isn’t “basic charity”. He can clearly see that the media conglomerates are making bank off his suffering and all he gets out of it is a new pair of boots that he can’t actually wear because he fears for his life. This story stopped being about him a long time ago and in the end all he has is unwanted attention from thugs who also know that he is in possession of something valuable.

Also good idea, just telling the homeless man to sell them someplace like ebay. I’m sure if he just uses his digital camera to get a picture of them and uploads the photos to the internet with his computer and then pays money to ship them someplace, everything will just be swell and peachy for him, right?

In short: You aren’t just being heartless, you’re being ignorant.

out_of_the_blue says:

Oh, so you're snooty AND a collectivist.

It’s easy to sneer at this rather wistful wish when from birth, the best of everything has been handed to you without even having to ask, college boy. You didn’t work your way through Princeton, or wherever, but you did receive the attitude of kicking the poor whenever possible.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Oh, so you're snooty AND a collectivist.

He’s not kicking the poor, you ‘tard. He’s pointing out the ridiculousness of the man saying, “Hey! There’s a video of me on the interwebs! Somebody hand me a check!”

Then commenting on the fact that we’ve reached such a level of insanity regarding copyright that a homeless person on the street is misinformed/misguided in his understanding that just because someone puts a video online in which you appear you are entitled to monetary compensation by default.

You’re such an idiot it’s hard to believe you function at all. I mean that.

jupiterkansas (profile) says:

Shut the trolls up!

While I appreciate letting people have their say, hearing the same trolls saying the same thing on every single article I read is getting tiresome.

I guess that’s their goal – make the discussion climate so hostile that everyone goes away and Techdirt loses it’s influence.

I just can’t believe their sad lives are so full of hate.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Shut the trolls up!

The problem isn’t really the trolls. Just click “report” and move on, their comments hidden behind the tasteful pink link. The problem is the people replying to the trolls (including me at times), which allows their postings to take up valuable screen and mind space despite being flagged.

Mr. Applegate says:

Re: Shut the trolls up!

I for one, agree. I don’t mind people having their say either, but this is just crazy.

I propose that when a thread is reported everything below that is hidden as well. People can still open it and rifle through it if they want.

Second, please just don’t even bother to reply to OOTB etal EVER! If they never get a reply and their posts are always buried sooner or later they will realize how meaningless their posts are.

Not as Anonymous (profile) says:

Chose to be homeless.

The homeless man in question has two adult children. Both have offered to take him in to live with them multiple times. He has rebuffed the offers each time. His brother has also offered to take him in and was rebuffed.

He’s made a choice to stay homeless, in spite of the opportunities offered to him.


” Hillman told the newspaper he was from South Plainfield, N.J., and joined the Army in 1978, serving as ?food service specialist? for five years before he was honorably discharged. He also said he?s the father of two grown children ? Nikita, 22, and Jeffrey, 24.

?We love our brother very much,? Hillman?s brother, Kirk, of Nazareth, Pa., told the Daily News Sunday, adding that he was surprised to see his brother in the newspaper. ?Our door is always open to him, but this is a lifestyle he?s chosen.?”

Leigh Beadon (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Chose to be homeless.


The sad fact is that the first world’s mental health system is dismal, perhaps most so in the US where the majority of it is unofficially palmed off on the prison system. Which is not to say that asylums pre-deregulation were any better — it’s just that the new asylums are prisons and the streets. And even if someone is lucky enough to a) have a manageable condition and b) get treatment, the treatment consists of expensive dependence-forming drugs that they will likely require for the rest of their lives (which they have to take responsibly despite frequently having no social support structure and a predilection towards substance abuse)

It’s a bad, bad situation.

Wally (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Chose to be homeless.

Leigh Beadon, this is in mixed agreement and rebuttal to you directly:

The problem is that the mental health system in the US is on a State to State basis. I for one live in Ohio and am proud of the fact that my state was not only the first to implement the public school system as we know it, but also among the first to have programs getting mentally ill people viable jobs. I think that the biggest problem we have now is that we are spending too much time worrying about treatment and not enough on getting these people jobs so they have the freedom (though some with a bit of supervision)that the rest of us take for granted.

I just wish the nation would wake up some day and realize how many people go untreated for their illness and get sent to a psych ward when a lot of times it isn’t needed. That sort of strikes a nerve in me when that happens.

Just a bit of proof as to the reason it is state to state, one only has to look at Texas. Nobody turns a goddamned head when disabled people get beaten up.

When I was in the US third grade. We had an entire science unit on disabilities and how they effect people. Trust me, it was an eye opener.

As for the Article in regards to the homeless:
Hillman’s reaction is only natural. After years of being practically ignored by the public, it took a public servant to lift his spirits for a time. It isn’t any wonder that he wants more attention after being deprived of care from others for so long.

Mr. Applegate says:

Re: Re: Re: Chose to be homeless.

Accept he apparently isn’t homeless either:

“Berenerd (profile), Dec 4th, 2012 @ 9:00am
Homeless man is also apparently not homeless….

http://todaynews.today.com/_news/2012/12/04/15672901-still-shoeless-man-in-viral-photo-not-homeless- officials-say?lite

Apparently he has an apartment in the Bronx.”

That is exactly why I never give to panhandlers. As often as not those pan handling do have a roof over their head and do eat. They choose this as a way to make money.

I will gladly feed the poor and homeless, most of the ones I have dealt with, don’t ask for anything, many are suspicious of strangers and truly grateful for food or clothing.

Those panhandling on the other hand, rarely are as needy as you might think. Ever offer to feed one? They will ask you for money instead (and often cuss you out if you refuse).

As for the mentally ill there is help, but many refuse to take it, because they don’t want to follow rules…

Brent (profile) says:

Re: Chose to be homeless.

What an asshole. “Even though I have a home and no need (besides drugs/alcohol) for your money, I’m going to manipulate you into giving it to me.” Is he ‘shomeless’ or just shameless? As for the ‘mental instability’ claims, he was with it enough to ask for a cut of whatever money was circulating as a result of being on YouTube so i don’t think his issues could be that serious.

That said, i have heard this (owning a house/car) about several homeless people in the towns I’ve lived in over the years. Probably something like 10 years ago, i heard that a homeless person in NYC could make about $40-$50k annually from panhandling. A low salary for NYC but considering that’s all tax free, enough for a decent living. I have no facts to back up the claim but i can believe its at least possible.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Chose to be homeless.

Meanwhile: People are making millions off reporting this good-will act of kindness to this homeless man while this homeless man can’t afford to get himself mental treatment.

Somehow I can’t buy the argument that this is what he ‘chose’ to do. Or that I should somehow be disgusted that he has chosen to do it.

It seems to me that there are much bigger crooks and criminals in this story than what we’ve been led to believe.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Eagle

I’m going to take a guess that one of the reasons he’s angry now is BECAUSE of getting lots of free stuff, but not stuff that would make his life any better. Just more meaningless knick-knacks that are more likely to get him shanked out on the street than let him maybe buy a house or get a job.

I would have every reason to be extremely pissed off if the only way the whole world felt they could pull me from the gutter is to give me a new pair of boots.

Maybe he’s just getting pissed off the wrong way at the wrong people.

Anonymous Coward says:

Why rally against the ownership mentality and rally against the very obvious and real situation of our media making a smokescreen out of nothing and it putting people’s lives in danger? I was honestly hoping that was the point of the article: that yellow journalism has become so prevalent that it has crowded out important news. News like what bills are going through congress, which startups were squashed by over-reaching patents, or what is currently happening with the ITU. Which as been shelved for meaningless noise which flood our information outlets with worthless, garbage, smokescreen stories like a cop buying a homeless guy shoes or a girl getting her hand bit by a dolphin.

Not saying that your job isn’t to point out the ownership mentality, but maybe one of the root causes of the ownership mentality is how people refuse to accept that there are repercussions for themselves and their acceptance of their shallow self-centric worldview.

Prashanth (profile) says:

Not an appropriate comparison

I don’t think it’s really appropriate to compare this homeless guy’s attitude to the ownership mentality pervading culture now. He has bigger issues regarding drug abuse, and he has basically said that he chooses to live out on the streets, not try to help himself, and mooch off of people. I think this is a simple case of greed, and I don’t think it’s proper to tie this in with the ownership mentality as it relates to copyright and TechDirt coverage of it.

NY Cop says:

Homeless Guy had his own apt and SSI check income!

Homeless Guy had his own apartment and Social Security (SSI) check monthly income, plus $200/month in food stamps. There are lots of guys like this, who have stable incomes and just like to play ‘homeless’ to get money. There is a lot of money in NY, and they can make $35-$50/hour, especially during the holidays, by panhandling. The sad thing is that there are thugs and gangs that will actually make some of these guys panhandle and take a cut of their ‘take’. They also use them to sell drugs for them, an someone is watching and comes by after the sale to get the cash right away and give them another 8ball or dime bag. REMEMBER, the lesson here is “THINGS ARE NOT AS THEY SEEM”.

Kelina (profile) says:

What Is Wrong With You People

This is someone who currently has nothing, might even have mental disease, and the only attention he’s got in the last 6 months (it looks like) is a free pair of boots, a butt load of publicity and still has no food, shelter, water or any sense of security. His comment isn’t an actual demand for people to pony up, except that people seem to want to look at him and make fun of him. Is he not a circus attraction for the news programs? Are you not entertained? We’re constantly being told we need to vote with our dollars. If speech is money than what this man did was become part of a speech about his condition. If that’s not worth anything in this world it’s just proof capitalism doesn’t exist, and that socialism is the only justifiable economy if you respect human dignity.

Chris Jelley says:

Look at the homeless mans point of view

Maybe the homeless man just wants some friends, ever though of that? The homeless man never asked the cop to give him boots but he did, gresat guy. But maybe the homeless man wants some of the attention so people will be more friendly to him, ever thought of that? Homeless people are so loney so maybe instead of giving them money if your not in the position or you do want to, AT LEAST GIVE THEM LOVING WORD OF ENCOURAGEMENT. YOU’D BE SURPRISED AT HOW MUCH THAT HELPS EVEN THOUGH ITS FREE TO GIVE

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