Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Guardian Angels Are Coming -- To Boystown

We have to say, we're disappointed.

After ten years without a central headquarters, the Chicago Guardian Angels have chosen to set up shop in Boystown.  "Why not Uptown?" a reader asks.  And we have to concur, particularly after reading this article in RedEye about the new headquarters.

  • They say areas like Boystown are relatively safe.  Much safer than Uptown, we presume.  So why go to a safe neighborhood?
  • They say they need to be by the Red Line.  Well, we can think of ten empty Uptown storefronts that are steps from the Red Line... and even in the Red Line station.
  • They mention the past summer's troubles in Boystown.  What about the past three summers of gang violence in Uptown?
  • They say they want to work with an engaged community.  Guys, have you ever heard of such an engaged community as we have here?

Well, they'll be close and that's better than nothing... but we wish they had chosen to be here, instead.


  1. Meh, there are places that need them much more than Uptown as well, pretty much the entire south and west sides. Doesn't matter though, the Guardian Angels are a joke and do nothing to address the root cause of the problem - hyper concentrated poverty.

  2. Alek: I don`t think they are a joke as you say. Lets see you roam around the streets in the early mornings and grab muggers and drug dealers as they do and hold them for the cops. I dare you. I have personally seen the help they gave residents and how much they where appreciated in the Humboldt Park area in the fighting of gangs and drug dealers. I would welcome them with open arms.

  3. We tried to get them in uptown a couple of years ago. after a lively discussion on UU, someone contacted them directly. Somebody please correct me if I am off here, but I don't think they wanted to come because of who was alderman at the time. They didn't want to go where they weren't going to get much support.

  4. I've spoken with Miguel a couple times. They used to have an office here but received very little to no support from the ex-Aldercritter and businesses. Like he is quoted in the article, a neighborhood has to help itself before they can help. No business, organization or group of individuals seems to want to toss resources their way in Uptown. That's why we don't have them here.

  5. This is Miguel Fuentes chapter leader of the Guardian Angels. We had a 24 hour office on Wilson ave next to the fire house for 2 years(1990-1992). We only had two supporters, the landlord and Fiesta Mexicana on Broadway and Lawrence. None of our members joined from Uptown. As a matter of fact I can count on my hand the number of members who came from Uptown since 1990 when we first were in Uptown.
    I spoke with the gentlemen who posted on here. Since than I have never heard back from anyone in Uptown to set up a meeting for us to come in. Since your posts about the Angels back than on this blog not one person from Uptown has joined the Guardian Angels.
    We are not free private security that just drops what we are doing when we see a post on the web. The reason we are working with Lakeview/Boys town residents is because they seem to care enough to meet with us, hear us out, and see what they can do to get a office for us to operate. They understand that things cost money and we will have bills, like utilities etc... that should not come out of the people who already volunteer to patrol the streets and subways. I did not come on here to get into a back and forth about anything. I was bothered when I read how "you were disappointed ". I am disappointed also, but not at the Guardian Angels.

  6. @Miguel. I think most of us just weren't aware of how the whole thing works and how a neighborhood goes about getting the Guardian Angels into their area. We knew that we would have liked to have seen your presence, but didn't really know how to go about it.

  7. Miguel, I second what Ray said. To be quite frank, I had never heard of the Guardian Angels until this post. Admittedly, I was still in high school far away from Chicago when you made your last push for Uptown 20 years ago in 1990, but surely you don't think that Uptown is the same now as it was then? Have you made any efforts to get the support of Uptown in the past, say, 1 or 2 years? I'm fairly alert and active in the community; considering I had never heard of your group before now suggests that maybe you had given up on Uptown before giving Uptown a shot.

  8. Miguel----thanks so much for posting. I can't agree with you more. It's what I've been saying all along to neighbors. "We" are the guardian angels (and I mean no offense by using lower case). "We" have to be the good neighbors and look our for each other and get involved in our neighborhoods.

    The Guardian Angels are volunteers. "We" need to be our own guardian angels and look out for each other instead of wringing our hands in despair.

  9. @nugatory. I think you are missing the point. It's not up to the Guardian Angels to garner the support of a neighborhood so they can help out said neighborhood.

    If a neighborhood really wants the help of the Guardian Angels, it up to some people in that neighborhood to be willing to join the group and help patrol their own neighborhood. It is also up to people in that neighborhood to provide the group with the resources they need to be able to operate in that neighborhood.

    If people in the neighborhood are willing to do those things, then the Guardian Angels will come in and provide training, organization and some human resources.

    At least, that's the way I understand it. Someone correct me if I'm off base.

  10. I understand some people may not know how things work, but anyone could have emailed us, or better yet picked up the phone and called. One person did and he posted here and also on the older posts and no one else followed up. Uptown gave up on us and we continued to move forward. Our job is not to go around the city and ask for support to patrol. If that were the case, I would patrol my own block and the blocks of our members. The community has to support our efforts and have members from that community in the group to make it successful. Everyone who has some kind of problem would love the Guardian Angels to set up an office, and we would love nothing more than to help. Again we are not a free private security company and with all these posts about us in Uptown, I find it hard to believe the community could not get together to work with the Guardian Angels. Some can get together and criticize us, attack us and call us jokes, but no one has yet joined us. This is not Amazon, ebay, stubhub where you just type what you need and it gets to your door in 2-3 days.

  11. Seems the positive loitering people would be natural partners for the Guardian Angels as the Angels M.O. is similar, except the Angels will physically intervene if someone is being endangered. But most of all it is their mere presence that will thwart criminal behavior, much like positive loitering.

  12. My point is that I had NEVER EVEN HEARD of Guardian Angels. It seems to me that Miguel's statement that I should have picked up the phone and called misses the point.

    I resent, and find actually quite abominable, the statement that "Uptown gave up on us and we continued to move forward." Moved forward from 1990? I have lived in Uptown for a few years now and I have never heard of Guardian Angels. So if you want to continue to believe that I somehow failed Uptown by not contacting an organization that I have never heard of, then fine. But in the meantime, keep your "Uptown gave up on us" BS to yourself. Do not accuse an entire swath of us of somehow failing to serve our neighborhood because we didn't sufficiently kiss the ass of an organization that we don't know about.

    I have no objection to this: "If a neighborhood really wants the help of the Guardian Angels, it up to some people in that neighborhood to be willing to join the group and help patrol their own neighborhood. It is also up to people in that neighborhood to provide the group with the resources they need to be able to operate in that neighborhood." I am more than willing to join the group and provide resources, now that I know about it.

    But you can't legitimately accuse a whole neighborhood of giving up when it is a failure of your own outreach. Say that boystown expressed greater interest. Don't say that Uptown gave up. Your holier-than-thou attitude, Miguel, really steams me.

  13. Its is hard to talk about the GA without mentioning how ineffective they have been in the past.

    Unless they have radically changed tactics and toned down that silly urban para-military act I would expect the same results.

    They picked.. Boystown because crime gets media attention there...The GA wants media it is a match...big deal.

    The Guardian Angels rep talks a good game on TV for the at-home-viewing-audience. However, on the street they are actually ridiculed and stick together in groups for their own protection.

  14. nugatory said...
    My point is that I had NEVER EVEN HEARD of Guardian Angels

    They were founded in New York, 32 years ago.

    Here’s an Uptown Update post from September 2009 “Does Uptown Need The Guardian Angels?”

    Here’s an Uptown Update post from May 2010 “Guardian Angels”

    You might want to read both of those threads and the comments, too, before getting so steamed.

  15. Miguel:

    I find in odd that you stated that you never heard back from anyone regarding the Guardian Angels in Uptown. On 09/23/09, I sent you this e-mail:

    "I have spoken with a number of neighbors, as well as bloggers on There are many of us who would like to be involved to get a Guardian Angel presence in the neighborhood. How long ago was your headquarters on Wilson? Although the political leadership of the area hasn't changed in over 20 years, the people who live here have. We are very focused on doing what needs to be done to rid this area of the rampant violence that plagues it.

    I can try to organize something for the neighborhood. What type of location would you need? It may start out as impromptu, but I am dedicated in seeing this through and will get many on board. Last minute meetings have seen over 400 people show up, so I just need some times that work for you and I can find a location and get the people there.


    I never heard back from you. That is what the earlier post was referencing. It wasn't Uptown that gave up on the Guardian Angels.

  16. I did mention I spoke with someone in Uptown in my last response. Nobody else followed up. We have never had any political support for 30 years. No political figure decides where we go and how long we stay, it's the community. We have already had 4 meetings with residents in Lakeview prior to that article being posted. They reached out to us via phone, email and in person. If you read the article we have not had an office for over 10 years. We did not just decide to work with Lakeview, because we wanted media attention.
    Visit our youtube page and search for us in Englewood, Little Village, Lawndale, westside red, green, pink lines, arrests etc.. You will see videos of patrols, and arrest in those areas. Most of our videos are filmed by us when no media is around. I think before you guys start attacking us you do some homework.!/chicagochapter Follow us on Twitter and read some of the places we patrol, again with no media coverage. I posted on here because your posts and comments are attacking people who volunteer to help the city and anyone who lives and visits Chicago. You do not have to like us, but do not attack us for your lack of knowledge about us.

  17. If I were the Guardian Angels I'd have one better response. Uptown is dealing with gang violence and gang members shooting at one another. Boystown is dealing with criminals attacking and robing citizens.

    I know that there is risk that in Uptown an innocent person could get caught in the crossfire but in Boystown the violence is directed at the citizens.

  18. It's alarmingly predictable that instead of staying quiet, some posters just have to complain, justify, interpret and expound upon the wrongs of others. No matter what the conversation-- the few who know more, have more experience and wisdom, are smarter also have more time to themselves than anyone group I have ever known.

    How about listening quietly every now and then? If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem. W/all the time you have, wouldn't it be awesome to put it to work collaborating, compromising and defusing the tension rather than throwing gasoline on it. Some terrorists have guns, others use words.

  19. After doing some research, Boystown is not so much of a safe neighborhood. They are trying to keep certain composure that they are safe and accepting. But since of the uprising of crime, the alderman, The Chicago Police Department, and community volunteers are all trying to come together to promote awareness and protection against crime. The Chicago Guardian Angels are coming to Boystown to help reduce crime. Boystown are facing troubles but since the guardian angels are an unarmed volunteer patrol i don't think it’s their place to patrol gang violence. Gang Violence is more of a police issue. Everything is not set in stone because the guardians need a support system. They will not come to a neighborhood where they are not welcomed. Since Boystown have the "accepting" reputation it would probably be a better choice for the guardian angels. This article explains the issues of Boystown from different aspects as well.

  20. Elizabeth, you may have something there.

    "Boystown" has had a long history of drawing chest-thumping straight men for the sole purpose of gay-bashing. I've seen people getting harassed by cars full of young straight men driving by, I've helped bashing victims by volunteering for what is now the Center on Halsted's Anti-Violence Project, and a friend of mine was shot through the throat by bashers after he gave another friend a good-night hug on Cornelia off Halsted. It wasn't until the mid-1990's that the Chicago Police started to really work with and respect the GLBT community there, and because "Boystown" used to have a huge concentration of gay residents, we had to take care of ourselves--we couldn't depend on the CPD to take us seriously. So we watched each others' backs, we had the Anti-Violence Project, we even had "Pink Angels" patrolling the street. We kept the crime level low enough that it attracted the attention of straight single women who noted the low incidences of sexual assaults in the area ( men don't rape straight women!). Many of the "Boystown" pioneers are deceased due to HIV-related illnesses; many more of us (like me) left "Boystown" because it had become unaffordable; the economy has taken a toll on businesses along Halsted, and between the internet providing non-bar alternatives for meeting and Illinois Smoke-free laws driving away more business, the numbers of gays "watching each others' backs" in "Boystown" have plummeted. So you have fewer people on the street, fewer people with an actual stake in the neighborhood on the street, and a surge of people who would rather create trouble than respect those who are on Halsted for legitimate purposes...a recipe for a surge in crime, which is what they have now.

    The difference between "Boystown" and Uptown--the businesses in "Boystown" are active and organized (they know that their very existence depends on people from outside of the neighborhood feeling safe to be there), there is affinity between the people frequenting "Boystown" and a desire to make it safe for everyone, a relative lack of antagonism toward the CPD, and an acceptance that *everyone*--businesses, residents, visitors, CPD, elected officials, NGO's, etc.--shares responsibility and accountability for making and keeping "Boystown" safe for everyone. Uptown has not gotten to the point yet where we respect each other across the board, where we share a common public safety denominator, and where ALL residents and businesses and city services share that common responsibility and accountability to our neighborhood. We're better than we were even a year ago, but we've got a long ways to go. When we are mostly all going in the same direction for the same purposes, then we'll see the difference I think we all want to see.