by Cliff Weathers
I was a bit dumbfounded to read in yesterday’s Journal News that the Guardian Angels have formed a Rockland Chapter and were patrolling the streets of Nyack on Monday:
Frank Moricco and two other men, dressed in the red jackets and berets of the Guardian Angels, have been walking the village’s downtown, looking to learn if the anti-crime group would be welcomed.
Moricco, 36, a former Guardian Angel in New York City who was raised in Rockland and lives in Orangeburg, said Monday that he envisions the anti-crime group’s Rockland chapter would start by working with organizations that feed and clothe the homeless and work with youths.
Moricco said he would want to eventually hold some self-defense classes, training people in conducting anti-crime patrols for which the group is known.
“We’re trying to see if the people and business owners want us there,” Moricco said. “The patrols are one of 10 things the Angels do.”
Mr. Moricco, do us a favor and please keep your patrols and your paramilitary uniforms out of the Nyacks.
While the Guardian Angels organization may have a lot of fans and they have helped clean up some bad neighborhoods in NYC, I see no wisdom in having a vigilante force patrolling the streets of Nyack. We have the Orangetown Police Department to perform the job of protecting Nyack’s residents and the South Nyack/Grandview Police south of Cedar Hill. And whether or not you think our police are doing a good job, they are at least paid for by and are accountable to the taxpayers. The Angels would not be.
The Guardian Angels are basically a street gang that’s core intent is to protect a neighborhood rather than terrorize it. However, they still operate and recruit using gang-like techniques and they don’t really give anyone a sense of security. In my experience, their presence only fuels anxiety within a community.
When I lived in New York City, I found the Angels to often be domineering, reckless and they wanted those around them to play by their rules. Worse yet, just the sight of their red berets when rounding a street corner made people wonder if they were entering a high-crime area. There are countless stories of the Angels interfering with and operating contrary to the goals of the NYPD. They were even known to fake crimes and stage subway rescues to make themselves appear relevant. The Guardian Angels founder, Curtis Sliwa even admitted that this was a tactic his group used to get support from the public.
I’m sure the residents and shop owners in Nyack don’t want the prevailing assumption about the village to be that it’s a high-crime area. The whole area is already suffering through a tough recession and we don’t need this problem exacerbated on a local level.
Yes, the Nyacks have their crime problems. I am especially concerned what goes on at Memorial Park and the Franklin Street Park in South Nyack, especially after dark. However, these are not villages on the brink of chaos; let’s not have a vigilante force come in here that would make visitors feel otherwise.