Curtis Sliwa once again grabs the attention of New York. Was that still the goal?
There was a time, on a trip to Washington, when he was thrown into the Potomac River by groups hostile to guardian angels. The time he assaulted an undercover cop, he mistakenly thought he was attacking a mechanic. And the time he buried a kindergarten classmate in a sandbox for pulling a girl’s mat too often.
It can be difficult to determine the facts, as many of the stories told by Mr. Sliwa – and others about him – have become linked to the tradition of the guardian angels.
But he was born in Brooklyn in 1954. When he grew up in Canarsie, his father, a United States Merchant Marine and Liberal Democrat, and his practicing Catholic mother, encouraged him and his two sisters. , to embrace the audience. service. His younger sister, Maria Sliwa, remembers him as a fiercely intelligent child. âHe was inhaling books,â said Ms. Sliwa, who works for his campaign. “He didn’t have to study and he would get an A.”
Yet Mr. Sliwa dropped out of high school. He married briefly in his early twenties and moved to the South Bronx, where he worked as a night manager at a McDonald’s on East Fordham Road – routinely chasing thieves out of the restaurant, he said. With a flood of shockingly violent crimes aired on the evening news, an idea sprouted. Soon he had banded himself with a dozen other young men, and they began to patrol the subway in red berets. In 1979, the group became known as the Guardian Angels.
City officials quickly called them vigilantes.
“He wanted to play cops and thieves with the so-called guardian angels, who were underage, untrained and had no business trying to watch the subways,” said Bill McKechnie, who ran the agents union. transport at the time and became Mr. Sliwa’s nemesis.
The public had a different opinion. As the exploits of the guardian angels were reported in the city newspapers, many New Yorkers cheered them on: the group members returned a wallet full of money to its rightful owner. They tried to stop an assault. They saved a token stand clerk. Mr. Sliwa kicked a shotgun from the claws of a much larger man as it fell from a subway platform.
Mr. Sliwa spent his days giving interviews, sometimes on national television. Along with his second wife Lisa, also leader of the Guardian Angels, he has been pictured for magazine articles. The group became the subject of a TV movie in 1980. Soon it spread to cities in the United States, and then to other countries.