For the past five years, photographer Brandon Stanton has been taking pictures of people in New York. He posts these images to Facebook, alongside a small snippet of the story of their life, told in their own words, as part of his Humans of New York series.
Over the weekend, Stanton featured the story of an unnamed man with a white beard and a solemn expression. According to the story he told Stanton, he was a police officer in Baltimore for more than two decades–during which he was also a heroin addict. “Baltimore was the murder capital of the world. It was tremendously stressful,” he said. “I did feel guilty when I was arresting drug offenders. But I always told myself: ‘You’re doing them a favor.’”
There’s more to the story — it’s amazing how much Stanton can compress into one compact paragraph about a person’s life. This one is particularly affecting; it also seems to tap into current debates about the ineffectiveness of the war on drugs, which is perhaps why it’s gone minorly viral and already racked up more than 174,000 Facebook responses. Click on over to Humans of New York to see the whole thing.
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