Sunday, August 31, 2008

SFGA history: Guardian Angels' S.F. Anti-Drug March

San Francisco Chronicle; Feb 22, 1988

Thirty members of the Guardian Angels staged an anti-drug march through San Francisco yesterday, at one point drawing a hail of rocks and bottles from a crowd at a housing project.

The brief clash at Santos Street and Sunnydale Avenue was the only one as the marchers, wearing red berets and toting a mock coffin to dramatize the effects of crack abuse, walked for nearly three hours from Visitacion Valley to City Hall.

The group planned to hold an all-night vigil on the City Hall steps in hopes of meeting today with Mayor Art Agnos.

Their march was disrupted shortly after 2 p.m. when a group of about 40 adults gathered on both sides of the street and hurled bottles and rocks at the uniformed marchers. No one was injured and there were no arrests.

At one point, a Guardian Angel shouted back, "Why don't you come down here and fight like a man?" No one took him up on the offer.

The marchers passed out leaflets to bystanders and urged city officials to take more decisive action against crack dealing in the neighborhoods.

The founder of the volunteer crime-fighting organization, Curtis Sliwa, suggested that Mayor Art Agnos and the Board of Supervisors adopt a four-point program to undermine the crack trade. The city should impound the vehicles of convicted buyers of the highly addictive, smokable form of cocaine, set up a special court to process crack cases, add police patrols and keep schools open with activities for kids until 9 p.m., he said.

Crack abuse in some public housing projects in San Francisco "is creating a system of violence, which, if not nipped in the bud, could spread to other areas," said Sliwa, who founded the Guardian Angels in New York in 1979.

The Guardian Angels have been patrolling Municipal Railway buses since last week in hope of stemming violence on the buses. Muni reported two minor attacks against buses on Saturday night. The incidents, which caused no property damage and resulted in no arrests, occurred at 31st and Balboa avenues, and 23rd Street and Potrero Avenue.

PHOTO; Caption: Carrying signs denouncing the use of crack cocaine, Guardian Angels marched to City Hall / BY DEANNE FITZMAURICE/THE CHRONICLE

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