The GUARDIAN ANGELS were an organization of volunteers who patrolled
areas of the city in an attempt to deter CRIME.
Originally they were organized by Curtis Sliwa in New York City in 1979 as a
citizens' group to reduce the high levels of crime in the New York subway
system. Wearing distinctive clothing, including red berets, they patrolled
streets and subway platforms. The Angels were unarmed; however, they did have
training in self-defense and operated in groups of 8 to compensate for their
lack of weapons. Although not sanctioned by New York City authorities, the
group, made up almost exclusively of young men from the inner city, were popular
with the general public and received much media attention. As a result, local
chapters were formed in several large cities. In Cleveland, U.S. Congressman
Ronald M. Mottl, representing the suburban 23rd district, invited Sliwa to open
a chapter here in 1981. While not publicly endorsing the organization, city officials gave tacit support to the formation of a Cleveland chapter in June 1981 with Eric Brewer, a reporter with the CLEVELAND PRESS, as its first director. By March 1982 there were 55 Guardian Angels in Cleveland. The angels patrolled the area around PUBLIC SQUARE, and in their first 9 months they made two
citizen's arrests and assisted in the apprehension of 13 other persons. Their
presence appeared to act as a deterrent to crime, and they were generally well
received by the public. Also that year, the Guardian Angels obtained permission to patrol RTA buses and trains. After Brewer's departure in January 1983, the Cleveland chapter soon began to lose volunteers and the organization was ultimately dissolved in the mid-1980s. The group re-formed in late 1993, however, and set up patrols for some near east side apartment complexes and adjacent inner-city residential areas.