Sometimes it is difficult to know where to begin in the City of Hartford. It is a place that juxtaposes the Rose Gardens at Elizabeth Park, the historic State Capitol, or the brand new Science Center with 18 homicides so far this year.
In response to the harrowing murder statistics, Curtis Sliwa and the Guardian Angels are coming to Hartford, according to the Courant today. The group patrols tough neighborhoods to stamp out crime in 86 other cities and towns across the nation.
Sliwa said Hartford would join the list this week, when “out of town” Angels would begin patrolling here “at least once a week.” Sliwa did not say what days or how many Angels would patrol the street.
The Guardian Angels have a mixed bag reputation at best, having been criticized in the past for being ill-trained vigilantes who create as much trouble as they address. Indeed, even in the Courant story, Mr. Sliwa seems to invite fiery responses:
“I always feel like, if I don’t get a 12-gun salute, that they’re not top-shelf thugs,” he said.
One could spend a lifetime examining the many ills that plague Hartford and create its problems – from drugs to racism, crumbling infrastructure, and joblessness. But as alluded to in the article, it wasn’t always this way for the Capital City.
But Tyrone Moulton, a self-employed mason and resident of Garden Street, approached Sliwa as the Angels marched by and made off with a handful of fliers, which the Angles were taping to telephone poles. “50 years old, I’ve seen it go from beauty to hell,” he said of the neighborhood.
Hartford used to be a working class city that mixed laboring, race, culture, and creed into a vast melting pot. But the great planners of the 1950s and 1960s balkanized the city, separating the city from itself with I-84 and from its natural ally, the Connecticut River, with I-91. Race riots, the collapse of the industrial economy, political corruption, and oppressive property taxation have pitched the City into a downward spiral that it seems unable to end.
It is unclear whether the Hartford chapter of GA will take off, or whether it will work. But with a Mayor who will likely take up residence in his own jail cell soon and people sick of the violence, maybe some Guardian Angels are exactly what Hartford needs.