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4 Chinese Americans help found the Guardian Angels

By Shirley Ng, AsAmNews Staff Writer

The New York Guardian Angels celebrated their 42nd anniversary on Saturday with Chinese American founding members.

Curtis Sliwa, Founder of the Guardian Angels spoke of the significance to hold their ceremony in Chinatown.

“We have history right here in Chinatown, where we’ve been received by the Asian community in their time of need and understood what our value system was,” Sliwa said as he referred to the rise of COVID related hate crime on Asians last year

He referenced that same support and representation of his four Chinese American founding members of the original 13 Guardian Angels in 1979. Don Chin and Anthony Ng both in their 60’s, were present at Saturday’s ceremony. The Guardian Angels lost contact with other two founding members, the “Huey brothers”

Sliwa recruited volunteers to clean up the streets in the Bronx, known as, The Rock Brigade, which later became known as the Guardian Angels on Feb. 13, 1979. The early efforts of those 13 founding members were well received and recognized by the city. This has led to their continuous mission to clean up the streets of not just grime, but also crime.

Chin, a Chinese American raised in Chinatown then later in the Bronx was a manager at a local McDonald’s when he hired Sliwa.  Sliwa came up with the concept of the Guardian Angels, but together they wanted to see if they would be able to help diminish the high crime rate in the Bronx at the time.

Now in his 60’s, Chin is proud to see that the Guardian Angels have lasted for so many decades and have helped the local community and worldwide. He is still a member, but stopped patrolling in the 80’s. Before the Guardian Angels he was a member of a Hispanic gang, Savage Cults in the Bronx at the tender age of 13. He’s now a grandfather to five grandchildren and works as representative for potato companies to McDonald’s

“Like McDonald’s, it’s so important to give back to the community,” said Chin.

Don Chin (left) with Anthony Ng

Ng is a native from Washington D.C., but his parents sent him to live in Chinatown with his grandfather when he was very young. They both eventually moved to the Bronx where he found work at the same McDonald’s as Chin and Sliwa. At age 18, he joined the Guardian Angels and recalls patrolling at 1 or 2am when much of the city’s crime would occur. He’s grateful for Sliwa’s recruitment efforts for continuously increasing the Guardian Angels membership.

 “To all the Asians Americans in their communities and in the Bronx that supported us initially when nobody did, we had Don Chin, Anthony Ng and the two Huey brothers, said Sliwa.  A round of applause broke out for them.

“We’ve come full circle,” Sliwa told his members, of the Asian support in the community.

Corky Lee button worn by Guardian Angels

Sliwa also gave thanks to the late “Corky Nikon Lee,” a nickname the Guardian Angels gave him. Lee supported their mission and was been helpful in connecting the group to other communities.

They attended Lee’s funeral last Saturday, saluting as the hearse and procession drove through Chinatown. Lee’s last photographs before his passing may have been of the Guardian Angels when he spent most of his day shadowing them as they patrolled the subway on December 26. Lee began not to feel well around new year’s weekend and was admitted to the hospital with COVID on January 7. He died January 27.

The Chinatown Guardian Angels patrol group on February 9th celebrated a full year patrolling Chinatown and has quadrupled in size since they started. They now have four Asian female members, when there was only one when I first reported on them last April.

On Monday, the Guardian Angels will begin two-person patrols to address the rise of subway crime. Just this week, three people were slashed or stabbed. Sliwa spoke out against Mayor Bill DeBlasio for being ineffective in stopping crime. He also pointed out of the lack of police presence riding on the subway.  Sliwa is calling these two-person patrols “old-school style, the way NYC Transit cops use to do it. “

Since the Guardian Angels were formed, six of their members have been killed while on patrol and over three dozen have been injured.

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  1. I remember in 1973 walking around Downtown SF. And feeling good passing you guys. I didn’t know about Chinese Americans in New York. But I felt proud of your presence… Thank you and be safe and healthy.


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