Officer Lawrence DePrimo, the NYPD patrolman who became Internet famous when someone snapped a photo of him giving boots to a homeless man, is understandably a little taken aback by all the attention he’s getting. He deserves it. He did a nice thing and it turned into a feel-good story, just in time for the holidays. Great. Less nice: the suggestion that the homeless man in the photo either sold the boots or otherwise got rid of them dishonestly. You’re killing us here, cynical Internet!
The Times found some commenters on the NYPD Facebook page who said they’d seen the guy after the November 14 gift, again shoeless. “I walked by this man in Union Square Wednesday, Nov. 21,” one said, “and he was again barefoot. I remember very clearly because his pants were also hiked up and his feet were very large.” On Reddit, people suggested the man’s barefoot post in front of a Times Square shoe store was a ploy to benefit from exactly the kind of generosity DePrimo showed.
But really, so what? Even if the guy did sell the shoes or stash them somewhere or whatever — and the evidence he did so basically consists of a few people claiming it on the Internet, so it’s hardly airtight — that doesn’t make DePrimo’s action any less generous. And it doesn’t make it any less of a good example. We’d much rather live in a world where people are inclined to do nice things for strangers than in one where everybody’s a jerk because they’re afraid of getting scammed.