Blogger and photographer Brandon Stanton, whose project “Humans of New York” has garnered massive popularity on social media, referred to the Republican front runner Donald Trump as “hateful” in an open letter on Monday.
The letter, which comes a few days after a protest caused Trump to cancel a rally in Chicago, sees Stanton talking about the business mogul using the means of racism in his campaign.
“I’ve watched you retweet racist images,” Stanton wrote in his post. “I’ve watched you retweet racist lies. I’ve watched you take 48 hours to disavow white supremacy. I’ve watched you joyfully encourage violence, and promise to ‘pay the legal fees of those who commit violence on your behalf,” Stanton said. In the first three hours, the letter was shared by as many as 500,000 users.
Speaking with CBS News, Stanton said, “For the longest time I felt a reluctance to speak out strongly because I didn’t want to involve myself in politics. But Trump’s appeal to hatred and violence has grown to the point where I think every person of influence needs to make a decision. Do you maintain a political silence? Or do you take a moral stand?”
Stanton began Humans of New York in 2010. Started as a compilation of photographers and interviews, in 2015 he traveled to Turkey and Jordan and spoke with refugee families seeking to resettle in the United States. Stanton’s work also featured in a New York Times bestseller book.
Speaking about Trump in his post, Stanton continued, “Because along with millions of Americans, I’ve come to realize that opposing you is no longer a political decision. It is a moral one.” He also criticizes Trump for paying “the legal fees’ of those who commit violence on [his] behalf,” he wrote, citing an incident wherein a man had punched a protester at a Trump rally. “I’ve watched you joyfully encourage violence.”
In December, Trump called for “a total and complete shutdown” of Muslims entering the US. Stanton shared the story of 14-year-old Aya, who fled her home in war-torn Syria and hoped to come to the US. “There is so much fear in the world right now,” Stanton wrote in December. “And politicians know that they must win the votes of frightened people.” After Aya’s application for resettlement was rejected, Stanton launched an online petition for the same. It received in excess of 1.1 million supporters.
Stanton says that Trump is not a “unifier” or “presidential.”
“You are a man who has encouraged prejudice and violence in the pursuit of personal power,” he said. “And though your words will no doubt change over the next few months, you will always remain who you are.”