Republicans pick red beret-wearing crime-fighting ‘vigilante’ to run for NYC mayor
Getty Images

It’s going to take weeks to count the votes for Democratic nominee for New York City mayor.

But there was one outright winner last night: Chris Silwa, a talk show host and founder of the anti-crime group Guardian Angels, was picked as the Republican nominee after beating Fernando Mateo, a restaurant owner and activist for bodegas and taxi drivers.

Silwa received nearly 69 per cent of the vote city’s GOP votes, per the New York City Board of Elections.

“I am not omnipotent and pretentious like a lot of the elected officials who are running for higher office,” Silwa said on Fox News alongside Rudy Giuliani - a former NYC mayor and Trump’s former personal lawyer - standing by his side.

“I have to undo what this part-time mayor Bill de Blasio has done to all of us, Democrats, Independents, and Republicans. He has taken a wrecking ball to this city that we love. Destroyed it,” he continued.

Silwa also urged his stance on addressing homelessness within the city, stoping animal shelters from euthanizing animals, and stopping crime.

NYC mayoral candidate Curtis Sliwa, founder of the Guardian Angels, lights masks on fire at a mask burning event at Empire Steakhouse in Manhattan on May 20, 2021 in New York City.Getty Images

But just what exactly are the origins of his red jacket and red beret-wearing group?

Originally called the “Magnificent 13,” the Guardian Angels were founded in NYC in 1979 by Silwa and is a nonprofit and international volunteer organization that tries to prevent crime despite being unarmed.

Silwa created the group to prevent violence, sexual assault and perversion, and crime that was happening on the New York City subway. Members were originally trained in karate to make citizens arrests for wrongdoing.

According to N.Y. Penal Law § 35.30, citizen’s arrests “authorizes a private person to use physical, but not deadly, force to effect an arrest or prevent an escape of someone he reasonably believes to have committed an offense and who in fact has committed such offense.”

At the beginning of the organization’s existence, former Mayor Ed Koch publicly opposed the group, lamenting them as vigilantes. Throughout the years, the controversy surrounding the group ceased, with less opposition from elected officials. 

Former mayors Rudy Giuliani and Michael Bloomberg supported them.

The organization patrols neighborhoods and streets and also provides educational programs and workshops for schools and businesses.

The group eventually spread across the country as chapters developed in Los Angeles and Sacramento in California, Washington, D.C., and Orlando, Florida. They’re also present in 13 countries, including Canada, Australia, Germany, and Japan.

They’re also non-discriminatory as men and women of varying races are a part of it.

Documentaries such as Vigilante: The Incredible True Story of Curtis Sliwa and the Guardian Angels detailed the group’s rise, and Vice News also recently created a documentary chronicling how Silwa and members of the organization today were keeping the city’s homeless population safe from coronavirus when it was at its height last year by providing food and hand sanitizer.

Despite Silwa’s innovative conception of the Guardians, New York City is no longer what it used to be in the ‘90s when Giuliani was elected.

Regardless, he’s unlikely to win: the Democratic party has a prominent influence in four of the New York City boroughs and has an advantage in the voter registration over the GOP. This makes the Democratic primary most likely to win in November for the general election.

Please log in or register to upvote this article
The Conversation (0)