Readers vaguely aware of the urban youth brigade that rides the subways in red berets may be surprised to learn that Curtis...

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THE GUARDIAN ANGELS

Readers vaguely aware of the urban youth brigade that rides the subways in red berets may be surprised to learn that Curtis Sliva, the Guardian Angels' founder and absolute leader, was a model student and student-government president at a Jesuit prep school, with scholarship offers from Harvard, Princeton, and Brown. Instead he became assistant manager of a South Bronx McDonald's, organized local high schoolers in a litter cleanup campaign he made sure got lots of publicity, and finally, on February 13, 1979, with more press releases, shaped twelve recruits into an anti-crime patrol he called the Magnificent Thirteen. Renamed, the Guardian Angels now claim 3000 members in 40 cities across the US and Canada; and many police who resisted them at first now acknowledge that their unarmed presence is a crime deterrent. Still, the group is controversial, and Haskins reports incidents of official harassment, arrest, and worse. All straight kids to begin with (those with police records are not admitted), the largely Hispanic and black Angels have been attacked as vigilantes for behavior which, said New York's Governor Marlo Cuomo (then lieutenant governor), would have won them medals had they been ""the sons and daughters of doctors from Great Neck or Jamaica Estates."" Silva has twice been kidnapped and beaten by men who claimed to be police (one group showed him police ID), and, as newspaper readers will remember, 27-year-old Angel Frank Melvin was shot and killed by a Newark policeman firing in what Silva maintains was ""cold blood."" Haskins foresees internal problems stemming from Sliva's tight one-man (now one-couple) control: he and wife Lisa keep such tight rein on the New York Angels that when both were in Washington on a protest all New York City patrols were suspend, ed. Haskins reports on this interesting group in easy-to-read sentences, evincing sympathy for Sliva's ideals and achievements without imposing any overall judgment.

Pub Date: May 25, 1983

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Enslow

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1983