Thursday, August 28, 2008

SFGA History: Muni Bus With Guardian Angels Attacked

Muni Bus With Guardian Angels Attacked;

San Francisco Chronicle : Feb 17, 1988. pg. A.6

Four San Francisco Municipal Railway buses were attacked last night, despite intensified police surveillance and patrols by 20 members of the Guardian Angels.

Meanwhile, community leaders, police brass, bus drivers and irate residents met in the Bayview area to discuss what could be done about the latest rash of violence and vandalism against Muni buses.

The most serious incident was an attack on a 15-Third Street bus that was being patrolled by Curtis Sliwa, the leader of the Guardian Angels, a civilian crime-fighting group.

It happened at 8:36 p.m. at Palou Avenue and Hawes Street in the Bayview District, where rocks were thrown at the bus carrying Sliwa, three other Guardian Angels and five passengers.
As 10 youths hid behind garbage dumpsters and threw bottles and lead pipes at the bus, passengers sprawled on the floor and their Guardian Angel escorts covered them with their bodies.

When the bus lurched to a stop, Sliwa and the other three Guardian Angels chased the vandals.
"The moment we got off the bus and went at them, they just scattered," he said.
There were no injuries or damages other than a broken window.

Earlier in the evening, a fight was reported on a 44-line bus at Third and Palou in the Bayview area.

Although most recent violence on Muni buses has been reported in the Bayview and Visitacion Valley areas, two minor incidents occurred in the Western Addition last night.

At 5:28 p.m. an "unknown object" broke a side passenger window on a westbound 38-line bus at Geary Boulevard and Baker Street. At 7:06 p.m., a bottle was thrown at a westbound 38-line coach at Geary and Scott Street.

There were no injuries in either incident.

Although Sliwa's bus came under attack, the other buses patrolled by 20 members of the Guardian Angels last night operated routinely.

Many regular riders of the buses seemed perplexed by their red-bereted escorts, staring at them openly as they got on board.

Others seemed more amused than impressed by their uniformed protectors. Many passengers chatted happily with the Guardian Angels, complementing them on their belted white jackets and red-berets adorned with beads, studs and other paraphernalia.

While police and Guardian Angels patrolled the Muni, about 100 people - including Police Chief Frank Jordan, District Attorney Arlo Smith and Supervisor Doris Ward - attended a 7 p.m. meeting on Muni violence at the Joseph Lee Recreation Center in Visitacion Valley.

Many residents angrily criticized the Police Department, saying officers sweep through the neighborhoods with occasional highly publicized drug raids, but leave them at the mercy of dope dealers the rest of the time.

"Every time we call the police, the brutality happens," said Enola D. Malwell, who lives on DeHaro Street.

"When we call you, you just start sweeping, and the good go in with the bad. We don't want all our people arrested."

Speakers made a number of suggestions, including enforcing the 11 p.m. curfew for teenagers, opening after-school youth programs, increasing drug counseling and putting speed bumps in the road.

Captain Frank Reed of Potrero Station said that in the last two weeks police have added 12 new Muni transit officers to escort buses, and 6 community service officers riding on the buses.
During the past two months, Muni buses have been the target of more than 100 attacks, including rock-throwing incidents and assaults against drivers. Most of the incidents have occurred in the Visitacion Valley and Hunters Point areas.

In one incident, a young man held a gun to a bus driver's head.

Chronicle Staff Writer Jim Doyle contributed to this report.

PHOTO; Caption: Members of the Guardian Angels stood guard on a Muni bus as it made its way down Third Street / BY BRANT WARD/THE CHRONICLE

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