Humans of New York takes on Trump

Brandon Stanton (seated on the right) has previously been invited to the White House for his fundraising for education. Image copyright Pete Souza/The White House
Image caption Brandon Stanton (seated on the right with camera) has previously been invited to the White House for his fundraising for education.

An open letter to Donald Trump, by the photographer behind the popular Humans of New York blog, has gone viral, after he wrote it was time to "oppose the violence and prejudice" spread by the Republican front-runner.

Brandon Stanton started the photo blog Humans of New York in 2010 after losing his job as a financial trader. He walks around the city and takes portraits of the people he meets. These pictures are then loaded onto social media platforms with a witty caption.

His pictures are very popular, often being shared by thousands of people and several blogs which imitate his style have also appeared on social media. He has also helped raise more than one million dollars for a Brooklyn school after photographing one of its students for his blog - an achievement which resulted in an invitation to meet President Barack Obama at the White House.

In the last 12 months Brandon has expanded his project, taking portraits of refugees who are trying to travel to Europe, as well as visiting Iraq, Iran and Pakistan.

These overseas trips, combined with the extensive interviews Stanton conducts on a daily basis appear to have inspired him to a publish an open letter to Trump on Facebook.

"I try my hardest not to be political" he started in the post which has been shared more than one million times.

Image copyright Brandon Stanton

Referencing his own work with refugees, Stanton then went on to accuse Trump of whipping up hatred against Muslims and others in order to make political capital. "You are a man who has encouraged prejudice and violence in the pursuit of personal power," he concluded.

His controversial claims that Donald Trump's Twitter account has retweeted both racist and fascist comments are not new.

Over the course of the race for the Republican nomination Trump has been accused of promoting violence and has had to distance his campaign from comments made by a leading member of the KKK. There have been violent clashes at Trump rallies, and after a demonstrator disrupted one of his speeches he said that he wanted to "punch him in the face".

Controversially he has advocated the use of torture, told inaccurate stories about Muslims being shot with bullets dipped in pig's blood, compared refugees to 'snakes' and claimed that 'Islam hates us'. None of these claims have disrupted his campaign, despite repeated efforts to paint him as a bigot.

Trump has yet to publically respond to the open letter, but in recent weeks he has replied to similar criticism by calling himself a "unifier" and "the least racist person".

However, Stanton's letter has struck a chord with the tycoon's opponents.

"I am a Muslim a Pakistani and I want every single person on earth to know that I do not hate you" wrote one commentator on Facebook. " I am white. I am a man. I am from the south. I am a Christian. And I am a conservative republican....but it is still BEYOND ME how anybody is in support of Donald Trump" added another.

The letter has been retweeted more than 30,000 times on Twitter, where it is not without its critics. "I'm not a journalist but I see you stated facts without showing references/proof" tweeted the photographer Chuck Madden, something Democratic supporters rapidly made efforts to provide.

Its popularity was boosted by the fact that Hillary Clinton shared the post to her two million Facebook followers as did the former astronaut Colonel Chris Hadfield.

Their support meant that the letter received more than two million likes.

But Trump supporters have dismissed the open letter as left-wing propaganda.

Image copyright Christopher Wilson/ Twitter
Image copyright Stephen Garvey/ Twitter

Some of Stanton's defenders have, however, rejected the blogger's claim that his work is not usually political.

Image copyright Brandon Stanton/ Humans of New York
Image caption A Humans of New York post capturing the plight of Syrian refugees in Jordan: "They are too young now, but one day I will tell them about Syria. They are already asking questions."

"I find it fascinating when people state that they 'try not to be political'" tweeted the Canadian Mike Riverso. "I've always seen everything that Humans of New York does as a political act. Humanising Syrian refugees at a time when they're highly vilified is inherently political."

Written by Hannah Henderson

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