Guardian Angels are a tragedy waiting to happen

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Is this what Chicago needs patrolling the CTA and streets? (Screen shot Guardian Angels Website)

"Depending on weather, they either wear a white hoodie or T-shirt with the Guardian Angels logo on it, along with black pants, black shoes, and black gloves. “The uniform gives us authority, he (Miguel Fuentes) says." (Common Law)

What authority does a costume give the Guardian Angels?

"CTA Security is provided by the Chicago Police Department Public Transportation Section. Officers from the unit include both uniformed and plainclothes officers who ride the trains and buses and patrol stations. Because they handle security on our system, any questions regarding the Guardian Angels should be directed to the CPD.  CTA does not have a formal relationship with the Guardian Angels. (Chicagoist/Emphasis mine)

If the CTA does not have a formal relationship with the Guardian Angels, why do they allow them to "patrol" and "enforce" laws? Why does the city? The vigilantes are not agents of the CTA, City of Chicago, or any municipal agency. They and their costumes have no authority.

The CTA and politicians are afraid of a perceived public relations backlash the Guardian Angels will cause. For some reason Chicago news media has a freakish predilection for the beanie clad vigilantes. It borders on hormonal teenage girls at a pop idol concert. No one wants to befoul the little Beanie Babies®.

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NBC Chicago

The Guardian Angels are very good at generating publicity. If the media ignored them, they would fold their tents and leave. They are nothing but publicity hounds.

The media had their chance last week, when the vigilantes handed out fliers declaring the Magnificent Mile "Muggers Mile". The media gave them all the publicity they wanted. They acted like a public relations firm instead of intelligent, objective, and fact based reporters.

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The Guardian Angels are a tragedy waiting to happen. They can be held criminally and civilly liable if they severely injure or kill a person they "arrest".

When heads hit concrete bad things happen. What if one of their victims falls or is pushed off the platform and electrocuted, or hit by an incoming train?

There will definitely be a hue and cry for prosecution.

Vigilantes have no legal protection. It is not illegal to resist a citizens arrest by any means. It is only illegal to resist a legal arrest by a law enforcement officer. Since the CTA is taking no action to prevent them from "patrolling" and "enforcing" laws, they could be held liable. All it takes is a good lawyer with public relations savvy and a sympathetic jury or judge.

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Sign on emergency door of CTA train. (Peter V. Bella)

The vigilantes ride the trains, meandering from car to car, using the emergency exit doors. The exit doors are clearly labeled- "Emergency Use Only".

They also have been known to use the emergency lever to halt a train if they see something, whether it is an emergency or not. With no legal authority they violate CTA rules, policies and procedures.

It is also dangerous. What if one of the Little Rascals© falls when the train jolts or veers?

The CTA does nothing to stop this willful reckless behavior.

If the vigilantes see a "known" criminal- whatever that is- on the train, they follow him or her off the train to where ever they are going. What right do vigilantes have to follow anyone? What legally accepted criteria do they use to determine a "known criminal"? What would happen if the person they were following decided he did not like being followed and challenged, or out of fear of receiving harm, attacked? Who would be criminally liable? Surely not the vigilantes. Everybody loves the cuddly Care Bears®.

What if they kill or catastrophically injure someone making their citizen's arrest? That is the question no one in the media or politics is answering. Will the vigilantes be prosecuted? Or, will they be seen as heroes, "seeking truth, justice, and the American Way?"

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Photo: PV Bella

The City of Chicago does not need reckless vigilantes on the streets or public transportation.

The city does not need dangerous vigilantes following people who they "think" are criminals.

The city does not need the legal liability that can ensue from their tacit approval of vigilantes.

Chicago does not need a tragic train wreck waiting to happen.

It is time to put the vigilantes out of business. They do not provide safety, deter crime, prevent crime, or have any legal authority to follow people. They only provide entertainment with their publicity stunts.

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Photo: P. V. Bella

At the end of the day, the Guardian Angels are nothing more than a vigilante lynch mob. The only difference is they are publicity savvy and know how to play the media, public, and some politicians like a fine violin.

It is time for the politicians, the media, and the CTA to ban the Guardian Angels from patrolling, enforcing laws, and following people.

Chicago does not need lynch mob vigilantes roving the streets and trains. We are a cosmopolitan civilized city.

Something must be done before tragedy strikes.

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