Founded in 1979 by Curtis Sliwa, a then-night manager at a Bronx McDonald’s, to stop what seemed to be ceaseless criminality on the city’s subway system during the darker periods of the Big Apple, the Guardian Angels made sure people felt safe and took on the local thugs that were terrorizing communities. They would raid drug dealers in the street, take their drugs and money by force (though without firearms, and take those funds to be used by local soup kitchens. As for the confiscated drugs, they would destroy them in public for all to see.
Vice spent a night with the Guardian Angels who flooded the Subway systems once again after a spike in crime, though it’s not nearly as bad as it was when Sliwa was literally waging war against those operating in what seemed like a lawless city. Chief Joseph Fox, who heads Transit for the NYPD, told Vice that it’s imperative to offer context and not to sensationalize these crimes. He said the city had 17 slashings so far compared to 24 incidents last year. Out of the 17, just one was random. Out of the 16, several of them were robberies, though the rest were the result due to a confrontation between two people, either over a seat, a bump, or a stare—which led to violence.
Chief Fox is aware of the Angels’ activities, saying they’re private citizens who have been “in and out of our system from time to time throughout the years.” It’s not a big deal in the sense that there’s some animosity between the camps. Fox said these are civilians, who have a stake in keeping the city safe. In fact, everyone should have that mindset of when you see something, say something. Fox does not encourage people to confront criminality, as they do not have the training. Nevertheless, Vice noted that commuters have welcomed the Angels as they return to patrol the NYC subway. They went back on the trains in February.