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Cops, Poverty, and the "Root Causes" of Crime

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In recent days, a remarkable story has started to, as they say, "go viral."  A New York City operative of the occupying fascist army policeman gave a shoeless beggar a pair of boots.

This episode itself says something the country needs to hear about the police.  On a fat majority of criminal law blogs, the main thing said about them is that they pick on minorities, plant evidence, and beat up helpless people who are minding their own business.

There are indeed episodes like that, but they are nowhere near as frequent as one would be led to believe. They seem frequent only because of the ACLU's (and similar organizations') highly selective megaphone.

The countering evidence, exemplified by the cop giving the homeless man boots, is thus worthwhile in its own right.  But even more illuminating is the follow-up article, which says a good deal about an even bigger story  --  the supposed "root cause" of crime, poverty.  Apparently, it's not what it seems.
As recounted by Scott Johnson on Powerline:

The New York Times updated the story over the weekend, identifying the shoeless beggar:

His name is Jeffrey Hillman, and on Sunday night, he was once again wandering the streets -- this time on the Upper West Side -- with no shoes.

The $100 pair of boots that Officer DePrimo had bought for him at a Skechers store on Nov. 14 were nowhere to be seen.

"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."

Mr. Hillman, 54, was by turns aggrieved, grateful and taken aback by all the attention that had come his way -- even as he struggled to figure out what to do about it.

"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."

How did Mr. Hillman hits the skids? He doesn't provide the Times a direct answer:

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."

Since Mr. Hillman's bare feet became famous, other people reported seeing him without shoes -- one even after Officer DePrimo's gift -- and one woman said she had bought him a pair of shoes a year ago. Whatever the case, Mr. Hillman seemed accustomed to walking the pavement shoeless.

He was panhandling on Sunday night and carried a cup with a few coins inside.

The Times lets this update speak for itself. At the least, however, it raises a few interesting questions. Is the problem of poverty in the United States a lack of resources? Is the problem of homelessness the lack of a home? Doesn't the man who wants "a piece of the pie" (hey, it's only fair) badly need treatment that would have been forced on him in less enlightened times? And is he helped by helped by those who fill his tin cup? How is he to be helped?

 

2 Comments

This is more an issue of how the mentally ill are to be treated. Decades ago, men like Jeffrey Hillman would have been wards of mental institutions. With the shuttering of most state hospitals, the mentally ill are left to fend for themselves on the streets. They are incapable of following the prescribed rules of a homeless shelter unless they are on their meds which most eschew.

The enlightened may call this progress but I believe a more concerted effort to reform state hospitals would have been more humane.

All thanks to Demoncrat Governor Pat Brown, father of Governor Moon-Beam Jerry Brown. Oh, and not Ronaldus Maximus as is commonly portrayed.

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