Guardian Angels

Tut Visits NYC from Chicago

April 16th, 2019   admin  Uncategorized   No Comments »

This past week saw Thomas “TUT” Hunt visit us from our Chicago Guardian Angel Chapter. He first joined the NYC Guardian Angels in Sept. of 1979. With over close to 40 years of Service TUT was the first to start a patrol on Staten Island. Years later he ran a GA HQ. on 168th Street and Amsterdam Ave in the heart of Washington Heights. His was the first GA Patrol anywhere to have to deal with the menace of “CRACK”. He began our very first GA ” CRACK DOWN AGAINST CRACK CAMPAIGN” and went on to develop our program right in the heart of 42nd Street and Times Square.

He then took to the road with Guardian Angel Paul Martinelli as they spread the Guardian Angel concept to cities around America in need. While based in NYC both TUT and PAUL would travel to our HQ in Canarsie, Brooklyn and sit with Frances and Chester Sliwa. Both Frances and Chester schooled them in Concept Therapy and a book called the
RAYS OF THE DAWN. It helped them remain positive while on the road and enabled them to get results when it seemed that there was to much opposition to the their GA cause. On Sunday TUT traveled to the grave site of Frances and Chester Sliwa with other Guardian Angels and Sliwa Family members. He shared with all the many things that he learned then from them and continues to apply to every aspect of his life even to this day. He also gave us a great update of crime in the neighborhoods of Chicago……..which remains the “Murder Capital of America”.

MS 13 Update

April 15th, 2019   admin  Uncategorized   No Comments »

Our #1 Priority is to stalk, shadow and weaken MS-13……….where ever they might be. Below is an example of the continuing problem. As politicians argue about what to do………MS-13 continues to survive and grow. This MS-13 member was arrested for manslaughter in May of 2000. He stabbed an illegal outside of a Deli in Huntington, Long Island. He did his time in a Federal lockup and was released in 2017. At that moment ICE deported him back to El Salvador.

Soon after he snuck back in and came right back to Huntington. Local law enforcement has been told not to work with ICE or share info. ICE was making the rounds when they spotted this same MS-13 member, tattoos and all walking down the street……like he owned it. Local law enforcement was MIA on this arrest. He will be deported again………and guess what……..he’ll try to come back again and again MS-13 knows it’s just a matter of numbers. ICE can’t stop nor catch all of them. MS-13’s motto is “KILL, RAPE and CONTROL”. but only against their own people. They know if you do that you stay under law enforcement’s radar. They wear a tattoo that says it all ” MS-13, From the craddle, into prison and then into a grave.

We have had success in their communities. We confront them, we recruit members away from them and we keep their future recruits, the children, out of harm’s way with our Junior Guardian Angels programs.

And now, after a year of planning, we are crawling into the Belly of MS-13. Into Guatemala itself. We are going to start our first Junior Guardian Angel program in a school in Guatemala City. From there we hope to grow it through out the country. With your Continued help and Support we will once again succeed against all odds. The politicians will continue to point fingers……..while we will continue to organize and FIGHT BACK.

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Mayor & Paterson Police Ask for More Guardian Angels Help

April 15th, 2019   admin  Uncategorized   No Comments »

At the Annual Palm Sunday March for Peace through the streets of crime ridden Paterson, New Jersey Mayor Andrea Sayegh made a personal plea for more Guardian Angels and more Junior Guardian Angel programs. Paterson’s 4th ward is an open air drug market with open prostitution day and nite. It reminds me of what it was like during the Crack Cocaine Epidemic in the 1980’s. Corruption in the ranks of the Paterson PD has increased as have the number of Police Brutality claims. I will be going to City Hall this month to see how we can help even more than we already have. I’ll keep you all informed.

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Mississippi Guardian Angels

April 10th, 2019   admin  Uncategorized   No Comments »

Benni  Jones and the Jackson Guardian Angels

Things are so bad crime wise in Jackson, Mississippi that thieves are stealing the wheels right off of the Jackson PD squad cars. Benni Jones is our GA Chapter Leader in Jackson, Mississippi. As you can imagine the problems are spread out all over Jackson.

 To Increase their efforts………Benni  Jones and the Jackson GA are meeting with the Jackson PD and community groups to form their first Guardian Angel Watch Program.

   There has always been a criminal pipeline between Jackson and Chicago. Gangs, Drugs and Guns go back and forth contributing to Jackson’s crime problems.

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Vampiro Visits NYC Guardian Angels

April 8th, 2019   admin  Uncategorized   No Comments »

This weekend NY/NJ is hosting WRESTLEMANIA at the Meadowlands.. VAMPIRO who is the Guardian Angel who set up the Guardian Angels in Mexico City is in town with other Wrestlers. He has become our “International Guardian Angel Ambassador”. Rather than attending the many parties…… he choose instead to patrol with the NYC Guardian Angels as he has on many previous occasions. He has introduced the Guardian Angel concept to the world wide wrestling community. Today he had the Washington Heights Junior Guardian Angels as guests of his to many of the pre- Wrestlemania shows.

   Vampiro is seen as the HULK HOGAN of wrestling in Mexico. He is now based in Las Vegas where he would like to set up a Junior Guardian Angels Program to help the growing Latino immigrant community. No matter how busy he may be……he never forgets to “DARE TO CARE” as a member of the World Wide Guardian Angels.

Posted by Benjamin Garcia on Friday, April 5, 2019

Our Guardian Angels in Mexico City operate in the most populated city in the world (Pop: 20 million)

April 8th, 2019   admin  Uncategorized   No Comments »

In addition to patrolling they are involved in Emergency Response Situations. They have helped around Mexico in the aftermath of Earthquakes. They are constantly training and preparing as First Responders. Plus they do tremendous Outreach with other community organizations.

Last week at the WABC Studios for Curtis Sliwa’s 65th Bday Celebration.

April 5th, 2019   admin  Uncategorized   No Comments »

Last week at the WABC Studios for Curtis Sliwa’s 65th Bday Celebration. Pictured Curtis Sliwa, his wife, Nancy Sliwa, and Cristian Rivera Foundation Founder, John Gungie Rivera. Curtis is a pioneer in the civilian anti-crime movement and the founder of the Guardian Angels. The Guardian Angels now operate globally and provide security to millions of citizens. Curtis Sliwa is an avid supporter of the Cristian Rivera Foundation and was the presenter of the newly announced award, The Guardian Angel Award at the 10th Annual Gala. The Guardian Angel award is dedicated to individuals who make it their life’s mission to protect children from DIPG and other rare forms of pediatric brain cancer.

In the Shadows with NYC’s Self-Styled Guardian Angels

April 3rd, 2019   admin  Uncategorized   No Comments »

People forget that in 1979, New York was burning. To relive it today would almost be like entering an unrecognisable dystopian society where street gangs ruled the city after the sun went down. Times Square’s Disney stores were occupied by peep shows and drug dens, and you could go as far as saying that some neighbourhoods even resembled war zones with burned out buildings, marred by urban decay. The subway? It was the scariest place you could think of. In 1979, if someone boarded your train or came towards you on a dark street corner dressed in the red and white Guardian Angels uniform, it meant you were going to be safe. 

Guardian Angels on Patrol in NYC / Photo by Francky Knapp © MessyNessyChic

The Guardian Angels put themselves in places where the police wouldn’t go and put their lives on the line in a way most people wouldn’t, which is where the organisation ran into its fair share of controversy over the years. For most New Yorkers however, those red jackets and berets were a very welcome sight, and still are, particularly if you’d almost forgotten they existed after Rudy Guiliani’s crime cleanup saw them fade from public consciousness in the early 90s. When crime rates dropped, it seemed like they were no longer needed by the public, but the Guardian Angels are still very much in operation today, tackling crime not just in New York City, but internationally, through its various chapters around the world. They’re still taking on the bad guys of Gotham’s underworld too, which in 2019, and in the midst of the new #MeToo era, means turning the heat up on the subway’s notorious sexual predators, a mission entrusted to a new female-driven patrol unit of Angels, known as the “Perv Busters”.

Perv Busters © Guardian Angels

Intrigued, we sent MessyNessy’s NYC editor Francky Knapp to shadow the mysterious men and women in red while out on their Saturday afternoon patrol. It’s impossible to miss the team at their meeting point, Columbus Circle: the dozen or so members make up a cherry red mass that wakes up the grey metro humdrum – commuters suddenly look up from their iPhones, and old-timers give them the thumbs-up or ask to take a picture with them. The younger generation, not so much. The L train hipster youth told us they “recognize the [Guardian Angel] logo,” but couldn’t explain what it meant.

© Guardian Angels

This year marks the non-profit’s 40th anniversary, but it all started with just one guy at the boiling point of a crime epidemic. In 1977, Curtis Sliwa was the 23 year-old night manager of a McDonald’s in the Bronx, overwhelmed by the violence that was unfolding all too regularly in his restaurant and decided to take matters into his own hands. He formed the “Magnificent 13”, a group dedicated to combatting crime primarily on the subway. They trained in basic martial arts, learned first aid and devised a special subway patrol system. They would ride the worst trains in the city, each member to a car. At every stop they would all pop their heads out of the open subway doors and if an Angel didn’t step out, it meant that someone needed backup and they would all converge on that car.

© Oliver Morris

Within two years, 13 had grown to over 500, with Curtis at the helm of the expanding group that officially became “The Guardian Angels” in 1979. Silwa, who was born in Brooklyn to Polish and Italian parents, recruited his Angels from all walks of life; black, white, hispanic, male, female, young, old; many of them reformed gang members who wanted to put an end to the wave of crime that plagued their communities. Curtis outfitted his diverse team of crime fighting citizens in military-style red berets and gave them jackets and t-shirts embroidered with their logo; angel wings and the all-seeing Freemasons eye.

Curtis Silwa, pictured centre

They weren’t allowed to carry weapons, but on the streets, the red berets would break up fights where knives and firearms were involved, talk down gang members and protect countless vulnerable kids from beatings and gang-related violence. The Guardian Angels became NYC’s coolest crime-fighting squad in their red berets and baseball jackets. And who wouldn’t want one of those t-shirts? Around the same time, the 1979 cult movie, “The Warriors” portrayed a lawless New York underworld and its vigilante street gangs, further romanticising the rise of these unlikely street heroes….

While they were championed by the public on the subways and the streets, historically their relationship with the New York City police was very different. Where did one draw the line between a Good Samaritan and vigilante? “That’s a big media headline,” an Angel named Gregory tells us in the belly of a Manhattan subway stop. “Back in 1979 when it all started, we had a very bad relationship with the police. [They] despised the Guardian Angels ‘cause they believed we shouldn’t be on the subway doing their job. But they weren’t doing their job.”

New York in the 1980s © Bruce Davidson

Ask most people who visited NYC as a tourist for the first time in the early 1980’s and they’ll almost always have a harrowing story to tell. Hotel managers were known to provide guests with fake wallets, so they could give that, instead of their real wallets, to the inevitable mugger.

In his stunning 1986 book, Subwayphotographer Bruce Davidson describes the atmosphere of fear and dread on his daily journeys into the New York subway system to document underground life.

“As I went down the subway stairs, through the turnstile, and on to the darkened station platform, a sense of fear gripped me. I grew alert, and looked around to see who might be standing by, waiting to attack. The subway was dangerous at any time of the day or night … Passengers on the platform looked at me, with my expensive camera around my neck, in a way that made me feel like a tourist – or a deranged person.”Photographer Bruce Davidson

Alongside the release of A Most Violent Year, the memorable 2014 film that shed light on the rampant violence and decay of 1980s New York,producers interviewed Curtis Silwa and several New Yorkers (including familiar face, Harlem legend Dapper Dan) for their accounts of the “third world” reality they faced everyday…

“Crime has gone down overall,” says Curtis today about the state of the city, “especially violent. A lot of it is good policing, but a lot of it is technology. There are cameras everywhere.” The Guardian Angels founder wasn’t always so diplomatic about the NYPD however, and in the 1980s, he was particularly vocal about the shortcomings of the local police with the media. But the more Curtis courted the press to raise awareness for the Angels, the more it backfired on him.

A 1981 New York Times article on the Angels. 

At the height of the organisation’s notoriety, he pulled some rather questionable and outlandish stunts, which included staging several of the Angels’ sensational crime busts and even fabricating his own kidnapping at the hands of the NYPD.

Robert Rosamilio/NY Daily News Archive

From very early on, Curtis Silwa and his group of “vigilantes” had been vilified publicly by city officials, as well as the police and the media. Silwa admitted that the falsified kidnapping claims were intended “to make himself seem more valuable to the public”. With crime through the roof in the early 1980s, New York City was at the centre of a nationwide debate on race, crime and the legal limits of self-defence. And The Guardian Angels were right in the thick of it.

© Bettmann Archives

While the organisation set out with noble intentions to protect New Yorkers first and foremost, there were also reports of bullying, racial profiling and harassment at the hands of some members on the subway during the height of their patrols in the 80s.

Curtis Silwa, 6th from left / Photo by Francky Knapp © MessyNessyChic

Riding the subway with the Guardian Angels today, it’s clear that no such members are present. “When I saw a group of Angels patrolling I thought, ‘Man, I wanna be a part of that’,” says Guardian Angel Gregory, formerly of the US Auxillary. “I’ve gotten beat up by cops, just because I’m black.” The Angels offered an opportunity to be a community safety net that, for once, he says, actually looked like the community.

Guardian Angels / Photo by Francky Knapp © MessyNessyChic

New members – who are heavily vetted – go through a 6-month, team-based training period in martial arts at the GA headquarters in Brooklyn to learn how to defend themselves, others, and detain criminals while police are being called. Absolutely no weapons, Curtis says, are ever carried by Angels and members are physically searched by each other before patrolling the city for a minimum of 4 hours a week, both in the subways and on the streets. 

Guardian Angels / Photo by Francky Knapp © MessyNessyChic

As in the old days, the majority of members on patrol with us today are non-white people of colour, like Benjamin Garcia, 55, who joined the angels in 1986 after seeing a woman attacked on the 4 train. “No one was helping her,” he says, “They were all watching. I grew up in the projects in East Harlem, and people mind their business. Like this man we’re after today, people were recording it instead of getting involved.”

Today, the Angels are trying to track down a man who, Curtis says, “stomped and beat an elderly woman on the 2 train.” They have one potential suspect, so we’re heading deep into the Bronx to find him, or at least spread awareness about him with fliers. Curtis brings everyone together to film a message about their happenings for social media.

© Guardian Angels

Depending on which Angel you talk to, social media has been a double-edged sword. All of them praise the speed at which it helps crimes get reported, etc. But “everyone is on their cell phones,” says Benjamin, who stresses that “people should keep their awareness up.” Curtis, however, adds that “people used to get on the subway and the physical setting was [filled with] so much urine, graffiti, defecation, and now everyone has their own earbuds with music to calm down.” Dead, he says, is the true era of the boom box. “Now everyone is in their own cone of silence. Almost like a form of Prozac.” In that sense, he sees it as a tool to help lower the crime rate. “This,” he says, holding up his phone, “has become a tremendous mood elevator, and pacifier for people.”

Curtis Silwa / Photo by Francky Knapp © MessyNessyChic

Curtis is certainly the golden orator of the crew. Which isn’t to say the other members aren’t articulate, but there is a fanfare with his language that shows why the Angels have become so legendary – and controversial – with his voice as their megaphone. His opinions ring out hard and clear, and earned him a second career as a radio host on a local conservative station for the past two decades. But his opinions also nearly got him killed in 1992, when Silwa was allegedly kidnapped (this time for real) by crime family boss John Gotti after publicly offending the mobster on the radio. As the story goes, Curtis was picked up by two gunmen in a yellow taxi who shot the Guardian Angels founder twice before he was able to leap from the front window of the moving cab and escape. John Gotti was charged with attempted murder but never convicted.

If one thing is certain, Curtis Silwa deserves his own movie biopic. It’s hard to hold a conversation with him without being politely interrupted by a fan, this time a man who said he saw Curtis in the 1970s. “You were with a tall girl. A lovely girl. Anyways I always listen to you on the radio, and I actually have a situation…” the fan continues to confide in Curtis for several minutes.

Lisa (right)

That “tall girl” was Curtis’ first and now ex-wife, Lisa Evers, whose archival on-patrol photos are indeed pretty epic: Lisa towers over most of the crew, her sleeves rolled up and red lipstick on. She was also a trained black-belt. Today, she’s a general reporter for FOX 5 News in NYC.

Lisa with the Angels (centre)

When asked what it’s like to be a woman on the crew today, Mary Gethins, a middle-aged member and the only woman on patrol on this particular day, says it’s “No different. When you put on a uniform, I think you can think of it as gender neutral. We’ve been coming across a lot of women who ask us how they can be safe, what can they do to avoid it – of course it’s not on them to change. I say, ‘It’s never about you. You can’t apply logic to it. Being a woman walking is not an invitation”.

Mary “KC” Gethins / Photo by Francky Knapp © MessyNessyChic

In 2016, the Guardian Angels launched a new program called “Perv Busters”, which comes with a catchy tag line, who you gonna call? (when you see a perv). Mary, who goes by the nickname “KC” says they specifically noticed “a rise in that kind of crime. We all have a lot on our plate, but this really got my attention and Curtis specifically approached me to lead that effort.”

Perv Busters brings us to one of the most exciting new initiatives in the Angels: an all-female squad that specifically targets sexual harassment in the subways. “I think sexual harassment should be considered a felony to a degree, not just a misdemeanour slap on the wrist,” says KC. Since the Perv Buster Patrol started three years ago, Curtis says they’ve documented “about 150 cases [and] been helpful in about a dozen cases in providing specific information.”

© Guardian Angels

There is new energy in the group through this female task-force, which is really what one hopes from an admirable group of “vigilantes” born in the spirit of 1980s Robocop lawlessness: that it doesn’t just move forward, but evolves. That it remains authentic to its spirit, but not tone-deaf to, say, the #MeToo movement. Every one of Curtis’ NYC Angels we meet today is a testimony to that awareness – but KC’s Perv Busters burn a particularly important beacon.

Curtis’ son, Anthony, 15 / Photo by Francky Knapp © MessyNessyChic

 “More than misconceptions, I would say there’s just more. More to what we do,” Jose tells us as we ride away into the Bronx. Today, the Guardian Angels have chapters around the world as far as Japan, as well as anti cyber-bullying and pro-animal rights work. “On Christmas Eve my chapter has a big dinner for the homeless community,” he says. Every Thanksgiving, he says his ex-wife makes sure he has their son with him to serve the homeless; along with Curtis’ son, Anthony, 15, he’s a Junior Guardian Angel getting ready to serve into a new generation.

Guardian Angels / Photo by Francky Knapp © MessyNessyChic

We’re about half-way to our Bronx destination when a woman asks Jose what they’re on patrol for today. He explains, and she happily shows him the breaking news on her phone that the man in question has just been caught. “Well that means the tip to the police worked,” he says, adding that this is the perfect example of the kind of work their namesake speaks to: that which is not always seen or heard from the shadows, but is always there – even after 40 roller coaster years (and perhaps a few embellished crime-fighting stories along the way).

Modern-day vigilantes or forgotten Knights in red? When and if you do cross paths with a Guardian Angel, just remember it takes a certain kind of person to put on a uniform and go looking for trouble … and no hero is perfect.

Learn more about the Guardian Angels on their website.

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