Warning: Graphic imagery.
On Sept. 7, police in East Liverpool, Ohio, pulled over a car that had been driving erratically, stopping in the middle of the road behind a school bus letting off children. The officers found drugs and paraphernalia in the vehicle, and during the search, the couple in the front seat passed out. In the back seat sat a 4-year-old boy.
The City of East Liverpool Facebook page shared the report from that incident along with photos many are calling disturbing, with the couple looking nearly dead and the woman’s grandson sitting quietly behind them.
The city did not blackout the boy’s face or any of the names of the individuals involved. Explaining the decision, it noted on its page:
We are well aware that some may be offended by these images and for that we are truly sorry, but it is time that the non drug using public sees what we are now dealing with on a daily basis. The poison known as heroin has taken a strong grip on many communities not just ours, the difference is we are willing to fight this problem until it’s gone and if that means we offend a few people along the way we are prepared to deal with that.
Since going up yesterday, the post has since been shared over 18,000 times. Commenters criticized the city for not blurring the image of the boy, while others supported the decision, blaming the adults for putting him in that situation.
In the post, the city also noted that it hoped the pictures would be a wake-up call. “We feel it necessary to show the other side of this horrible drug,” it read. “We feel we need to be a voice for the children caught up in this horrible mess.”
Update Sept. 14, 2:50pm: People reports the 4-year-old boy has been placed in a new home, with his great aunt and great uncle in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. The boy’s grandmother (which he first reported was his mother) previously had custody of him.