A vigilante is someone who illegally punishes a criminal, or participates in a group which metes out illegal punishment to criminals.Members of community watch programs and others who use legal means of bringing people to justice are not considered vigilantes. For example, in 1979 Curtis Sliwa founded the Guardian Angels in New York City, a recognized crime fighting organization that now has chapters in many other cities
The Guardian Angels is a non-profit, international, volunteer organization of unarmed citizen crime patrollers. The Guardian Angels organization was founded February 13, 1979 in New York City by Curtis Sliwa and has chapters in 13 countries (in 140 cities) around the world.
Sliwa originally created the organization to combat widespread violence and crime on the New York City subways. The organization originally trained members to make citizen’s arrests for violent crimes. The organization patrols the streets and neighborhoods but also provides education programs and workshops for schools and businesses.In the beginning, New York City Mayor Ed Koch publicly opposed the group. Many government officials also opposed the group whenever they attempted to open a chapter in their cities. Over the years, however, as the novelty of the organization and controversy has died down, and as citizen involvement and outreach has increased, there has been less public opposition to the group by government officials. Former Mayor Ed Koch later reversed his stance on the organization, and former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and current New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg have publicly supported the group, although Toronto Mayor David Miller and Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair publicly oppose the group.