William "Preston" King, a 52-year-old former associate of Jordan Belfort, better known as the "Wolf of Wall Street," is said to have once driven a BMW, lived in a loft in SoHo and held powerful positions at Merrill Lynch and Oppenheimer & Co.
A disheartening image of King lying on top of cardboard pizza boxes on the sidewalk of Greenwich Village recently appeared on a public Flickr account run by the Sergeants Benevolent Association (SBA) as part of a social media campaign aiming to document "the homeless lying in our streets, aggressive panhandlers, people urinating in public or engaging in open-air drug activity, and quality-of-life offenses of every type," New York Post reports.
Belfort confirmed to the New York Post he knew King "socially" and said he feels "so bad for the guy," even admitting "[he'd] probably be on a park bench, too, if [he] didn't get sober."
According to Vice News, the SBA says this campaign is a criticism of Mayor de Blasio for his lackluster efforts with the homeless, but Twitter users are skeptical of the campaign and are calling it victim-blaming.
Jean Rice, founding board member of Picture the Homeless, tells ThinkProgress she's concerned those who document these offenses for the SBA don't know what actually is considered a "quality-of-life offense."
She argues this initiative only targeted homeless people, who are disproportionately people of color, and not others who may also engage in the aforementioned "quality-of-life" offenses.
Citations: New York Cops Are Now Shaming Homeless People On Social Media (News Vice), I feel so bad for him Wolf of Wall Street speaks out over former friend found living on the streets of New York and says he could have ended up that way too (Daily Mail), 'I feel so bad':'Wolf of Wall Street' on homeless ex-broker (New York Post)