From Vigilante to Mayor? 'Guardian Angel' Curtis Sliwa Runs for Big Apple's Top Job
16:00 GMT 31.10.2021 (Updated: 21:07 GMT 19.10.2022)
Curtis Sliwa has led an eventful life, from fighting crime on the New York subway to a Mafia attempt on his life, followed by a career as a radio host and finally a foray into politics. He has pulled no punches in his bid to become mayor of the US financial capital.
A founding member of the Guardian Angels, Curtis Sliwa is hoping to become only the fourth Republican to be elected mayor of New York City since WWII.
The 67-year-old vigilante is up against Democrat candidate and former NYPD cop Eric Adams in the race to replace incumbent Bill de Blasio
as boss of the Big Apple on 2 November.
Sliwa has been an outspoken critic of fellow New Yorker, former President Donald Trump, calling him a "screwball and a crackpot" and only joining the Republican party this year after staging a 'hostile takeover' of the small Reform Party in 2018.
Sliwa shot to fame as the founder of the Guardian Angels, the volunteer force of unarmed citizens that confront criminals. The group started out in 1977 as the 'Magnificent 13', patrolling the New York subway system under his leadership, before adopting its current name two years later.
Members of the organisation train in martial arts and how to make a legal citizen's arrest. It later expanded to chapters in 130 cities and 13 other countries.
The Guardian Angels were praised by none other than Mario Cuomo
, then-lieutenant governor and later governor of New York state and father of recently disgraced governor Andrew Cuomo
— and CNN anchorman Chris Cuomo
But Sliwa did not always see eye-to-eye with the police. He claimed the fatal 1982 shooting by an officer of Frank Melvin, a black member of the Angels' Buffalo chapter in upstate New York, was racially motivated.
In 1992, an attempt was made on Sliwa's life when he was picked up outside his Greenwich Village home in a taxi cab that had been stolen by mobsters.
A hit-man hiding on the floor of the cab got up and shot him in the leg and lower back. He escaped a third bullet to the head by leaping from the window of the moving car in the middle of Manhattan.
Less than two months earlier Sliwa had been ambushed by three men with baseball bats, who left him with a broken wrist and head injuries.
John A Gotti, son of the famous New York Mafioso John Gotti, was charged with attempted murder over the incident along with Michael Yannotti. Three trials failed to convict Gotti, while Yanotti was acquitted.
Sliwa and Adams traded insults in a televised debate on Tuesday night. The Republican returned to his attack line on the mystery surrounding the Democrat's home address — and whether he even lives in the city.
Adams then alleged Sliwa had "hidden money" to avoid paying child support, a claim Sliwa called "scurrilous", adding: "How dare you bring my family into this?"
On Twitter later, Sliwa slammed Adams' plan to meet with criminal gang leaders, including those convicted or suspected of murder, in a bid to reduce street violence in the metropolis.
He said the only gang he would allow in the city was the Yang Gang — the nickname of businessman Andrew Yang's campaign in the 2020 Democrat presidential primaries. Yang unsuccessfully sought the Democratic nomination for the mayoral election, before walking out to set up his new Forward Party.
The Republican also boasted that his planned reforms to property tax would allow New York's workforce to move back into the city.
20 October 2021, 19:37 GMT
He has vowed to end De Blasio's COVID-19 vaccine mandates that have seen the city's emergency, municipal and health workers who decline the jabs laid off.
The Republican governors of Florida and Texas, Ron DeSantis and Greg Abbott, have already banned such directives even if they come straight from the desk of President Joe Biden
On Tuesday, Sliwa blasted Adams' plan to make immunisation mandatory even for schoolchildren, saying he had met parents who marched in protest against the move.
"We are going to kick them out? We are going to expel them? What kind of compassion and care is that?" he asked.
Adams was equivocal in his response, saying remote learning from home was still an option.
Sliwa also accused Adams of being out of touch, chatting to consultants and hanging out with celebrities while the former Guardian Angel was on the streets talking to ordinary people.