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Curtis Sliwa (born March 26, 1954) is an American anti-crime activist, founder and CEO of the Guardian Angels, and a conservative radio talk show host.

Guardian Angels

In May 1977, Sliwa created the "Magnificent 13", a group dedicated to combating violence and crime on the New York City subways. At the time, the city was experiencing a wave of crime as municipal services were cut back to reduce its debt.

The Magnificent 13 grew and was renamed the Guardian Angels. The group's actions drew strong reactions, both positive and negative, from the police, public officials, residents and the media. Throughout the early 1980s the group's distinctive uniform, a Military type Red beret and white insignia t-shirt, became recognizable as the group grew and courted media attention.

In the early 1980s, he became active in Buffalo, New Yorkmarker and was often critical of local police policies and practices. Sliwa continues to act as the President of the organization and oversees its worldwide operations. His wife, Mary, is Executive Director and Chief Operating Officer. He frequently visits chapters throughout the world and graduates new chapters. Today, Sliwa states that the Guardian Angels operate in nine countries and 82 cities around the world, with approximately 5,000 members.

Sliwa went on to become a populist, conservative radio talk show host.


Sliwa later admitted that, in order to attract favorable media attention and build membership, he had fabricated criminal incidents "that clearly had not taken place" including staged subway muggings that were broken up by group members and a false allegation that he had been kidnapped by the New York Transit Police. He admitted that the group's primary activity was patrolling the Restaurant Row neighborhood in Manhattan.

Murder attempt on Sliwa

On June 19, 1992 Sliwa was shot and nearly kidnapped by two gunmen after entering a taxi in Manhattan. A stolen taxi picked up Sliwa near his home in the East Villagemarker and a gunman hiding in the front passenger seat jumped up and fired several shots, hitting him in the groin and legs. The kidnapping was apparently foiled when Sliwa lept from the front window of the moving cab and escaped. Sliwa underwent surgery for internal injuries and leg wounds.

Federal Prosecutors eventually charged John A. Gotti, the son of Gambino crime family leader John Gotti, with the attempted murder, among a raft of other charges. Prosecutors claimed that Gotti was angered by remarks Sliwa had made about his father on his radio program. However, after three attempts to try him, the last on September 20, 2005, three separate juries were unable to agree to convict Gotti on all of the charges brought against him and the charges were dropped. Jurors later told reporters they did believe he had a role in Sliwa's shooting. Prosecutors declined to re-try Gotti and dismissed the charges against him. Sliwa has said he would seek damages in Civil Court. Michael Yannotti, a Gotti associate, was also charged with shooting Sliwa in the incident and was acquitted.

The TV series Law & Order loosely dramatized these events in the episode "Cry Wolf" (Nov. 17, 2004). Jose Zuniga played Sliwa's fictional counterpart, called "Kristoff".

Career in radio

Curtis Sliwa in September 2007
Sliwa has been a radio broadcaster for almost two decades. He has broadcast on WABCmarker, on and off, since 1990.

In 1994, the then city-owned and operated WNYCmarker hired Sliwa, who had been released by WABC. Some, including Sliwa, have suggested that he was forced on the station by newly-elected mayor Rudy Giuliani, whom he had supported in the mayoral race. Sliwa stayed four months in the position before moving back to commercial radio.

He was back at WABC in 1996, and in 2000 he became the co-host, with attorney Ron Kuby, of the long-running "Curtis and Kuby in the Morning". The show lasted eight years before Citadel Broadcasting replaced the team with Don Imus. The station retained Sliwa, who is currently in a late night slot. However WABC announced onNovember 24, 2009, that the show will be replaced by John Batchelor as they and Sliwa could notagree on a new contract.

Sliwa can earn $12,000 to $15,000 per event as a motivational speaker, and is represented by Premiere Speaking Bureau.

Personal life

Sliwa was born into a Polish-Italian Catholic family in Canarsiemarker, Brooklynmarker, New Yorkmarker and raised a member of the Assyrian Church of the East. Sliwa attended and was expelled from Brooklyn Prep, a Jesuit Catholic high school, and graduated from Canarsie High Schoolmarker, a New York City public high school in Canarsiemarker, Brooklynmarker. Prior to founding the Guardian Angels, he was night manager of a McDonald's restaurant on Fordham Road in The Bronxmarker. His second wife was Lisa Evers, now a television reporter and radio personality. In 2004 Sliwa married for a third time and became a father to his son, Anthony Chester.

Curtis Sliwa at a Toronto gathering in July 2006
Sliwa is known for his connection with the New York City community and frequently participates in local events. He is an active proponent of the game of stickball and sometimes refers to himself as the "Stickball Commissioner" of New York City. He is also a former host and participant in competitive eating events. His achievements in those events include four reigns as the world pickle-eating champion.


Sliwa's fans have collected many of his malapropisms calling them Sliwaisms.Some examples include:
  • "He kidnaped the Limburger baby"
  • "I stand up corrected"
  • "The grand jury should return a bill of goods"
  • "A skimpily-clad bikini"
  • "The Gottis tried to have me whacked off"


  1. JamesCunningham,68,Dies; Buffalo Police Commissioner
  3. Premiere Speakers
  4. The New York Times
  5. Brooklyn’s Favorite Crime-fighter, Curtis Sliwa, Is Honored by Local Politicians, Brooklyn Daily Eagle, March 6, 2008

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