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The Guardian Angels is a vigilante crime fighting organization. It was started by Curtis Sliwa in 1979 in New York City, and were originally known as the Magnificent 13. Guardian Angels chapters eventually formed around the United States. They began gaining publicity by having patrols safeguarding dangerous subway routes, where police presence was lacking.
Originally, they did not have a good relationship with the New York City government and police department. However eventually, either due to proven results or mere publicity, the mayor of New York conceded that they were at least of some value:
It's like chicken soup... Have they hurt? No. Have they helped? Yes.
In 1981, they were issued official badges from the city. Regarding this, Sliwa said:
The badges make the New York Times crowd feel good... The people on the subways in Brooklyn never needed to see a badge. They were always happy enough just to see us get on the train.
It should be noted that in 1992, Curtis Sliwa admitted to having fabricated several stories from the early days of the organization. His associates also claimed that there were more confessions to come. It should also be noted that in 2018 they vowed to raid a park in Staten Island to perform citizens arrests of drug dealers, who is at least in principle are not engaged in violation of rights.
- NY Daily News article from 2017 about the history of the Guardian Angels
- New York Timse article from 1981 about the city officially giving recognition to the Guardian Angels
- New York Times article from 1992 about Curtis Sliwa's confession of faking crimes
- New York Post article from 2018 about a vow to raid a park to stop drug deals.