Curtis Sliwa

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Curtis Sliwa
Curtis Sliwa mahmood (cropped).jpg
Sliwa in 2007
Chair of the Reform Party of New York State
In office
2016–2018
Preceded byRob Astorino
Succeeded byBill Merrell
Personal details
Born (1954-03-26) March 26, 1954 (age 67)
Canarsie, Brooklyn, New York, U.S.
Political partyRepublican (2020–present)
Other political
affiliations
Reform (2016–2020)
Spouse(s)
Lisa Evers
(m. 1981; div. 1995)

Mary Galda
(m. 2000; div. 2012)
Children3

Curtis Sliwa (/ˈsliwə/; born March 26, 1954) is an American activist and radio talk show host who is the Republican nominee for the 2021 New York City mayoral election. He is the founder and chief executive officer of the Guardian Angels, a nonprofit organization for unarmed crime prevention.

Early life[edit]

Curtis Sliwa was born on March 26, 1954,[1] into a Catholic family of Polish and Italian descent, in Canarsie, Brooklyn.[2] He has two sisters.[3] He attended Brooklyn Prep, a Jesuit high school from which he was later expelled,[4] and graduated from Canarsie High School. In his youth, he worked as a delivery boy for the New York Daily News, where he was awarded the title of "Newsboy of the Year" and a trip to the White House after he saved several people from a burning building while on a paper route.[5][6][7]

Prior to founding the Guardian Angels, he was night manager of a McDonald's restaurant on Fordham Road in the Bronx.[8]

Guardian Angels[edit]

In May 1977, Sliwa created the "Magnificent 13", a group dedicated to combating violence and crime on the New York City Subway.[9] At the time, the city was experiencing a crime wave.[10] The Magnificent 13 grew and was renamed the Guardian Angels in 1979. The group's actions drew strong reactions, both positive and negative.[11] Membership of the Guardian Angels showed 80 percent of them were either black or Hispanic in ethnic origin.[7] Unarmed, the group required training in karate and fulfillment of legal requirements for citizens' arrest for all members before they were to be deployed.[12] Sliwa's red beret is a component of the Guardian Angels' uniform.[13][14]

Mayor Ed Koch, a critic of Sliwa and of the organization, launched an investigation into the Guardian Angels, which according to The Washington Post, proved "so positive that the Guardian Angels will soon be awarded some sort of official status."[15] Then-Lieutenant Governor Mario Cuomo was a rare early advocate of the organization, being quoted saying "[t]hey are a better expression of morality than our city deserves".[7]

In 1992, Sliwa admitted that he and the Guardian Angels faked heroic subway rescues for publicity. He also admitted to having claimed falsely that three off-duty transit police officers had kidnapped him.[16]

In the early 1980s, he expanded operations to Buffalo, and was often critical of local police policies and practices.[17] One incident involved Guardian Angels member Frank Melvin, who was fatally shot by a Newark police officer in December 1981 after an officer claimed they mistook his unzipping of his jacket – to display his Guardian Angels emblem – as a threat.[18][19] Sliwa claimed that the killing of Melvin – an African American – was racially motivated, and had been done by a white officer who was being protected by the police department, rather than by the Hispanic officer identified as the shooter.[19][20] An Essex County grand jury cleared both officers of charges related to Melvin's death.[20]

Murder attempt[edit]

On June 19, 1992, Sliwa was kidnapped and shot by two gunmen after entering a stolen taxi in Manhattan. The taxi picked up Sliwa near his home in the East Village, and a gunman hiding in the front passenger seat jumped up and fired several shots, hitting him in the groin and legs. The kidnapping was foiled when Sliwa leapt from a front window of the moving cab and escaped. Sliwa underwent surgery for internal injuries and leg wounds.[21]

John A. Gotti (middle) in an FBI surveillance photo.

Federal prosecutors eventually charged John A. Gotti, the son of Gambino crime family leader John Gotti, with the attempted murder and a raft of other charges. Prosecutors claimed that Gotti was angered by remarks Sliwa had made on his radio program about Gotti's father. However, after three attempts to try him, the last on September 20, 2005, three separate juries were unable to agree to convict Gotti on any of the charges brought against him, and the charges were dropped. Jurors later told reporters they did believe he had a role in Sliwa's shooting.[22] Prosecutors declined to re-try Gotti and dismissed the charges against him. Sliwa said he would seek damages in civil court.[23]

Michael Yannotti, a Gotti associate, was also charged with shooting Sliwa in the incident but was acquitted. Yannotti, however, was sentenced to 20 years on an unrelated racketeering charge.[24] Still, Manhattan Federal Judge Shira Scheindlin said evidence suggested Yannotti was the shooter.[25]

Media career[edit]

Radio[edit]

Sliwa in September 2007
Sliwa and Ron Kuby with U.S. Representative Gary Ackerman in 2005

Sliwa has been a radio broadcaster for three decades, most of that time on WABC-AM, where he began his career in 1990. In 1994, the then city-owned and operated WNYC hired Sliwa, who had been released by WABC. Some, including Sliwa,[26] have suggested that he was given access to the station by newly-elected Mayor Rudy Giuliani, whom he had supported in the 1993 mayoral race.[27]

Sliwa has become a populist conservative radio talk show host. Since 1996, he has hosted various radio programs on WABC,[28] and in 2000, he became the co-host, with attorney Ron Kuby, of the long-running Curtis and Kuby in the Morning. The show lasted eight years before Citadel Broadcasting replaced the team with Don Imus.[29] His longtime broadcast partner was lawyer Ron Kuby, with whom he had multiple times hosted in the past "Curtis & Kuby" weekday radio show at noon, on WABC-AM in New York City.[30] Starting in June 2017, Sliwa's co-host was attorney and television commentator, Eboni Williams.[31] His most recent co-host was Juliet Huddy, who joined the show in February 2019.[32]

The Curtis Sliwa LIVE program began national syndication on December 1, 2008.[33] WABC retained Sliwa until November 2009, when his show was cancelled after a contract dispute.[34] He hosted both the morning and evening "drive time" shows on WNYM-AM 970,[35] but as of January 2, 2014, Sliwa returned to WABC, replacing Rush Limbaugh who moved to WOR-AM.[36] Prior to his mayoral campaign, a Bronx lawyer lodged a complaint against Sliwa, alleging he was promoting his mayoral candidacy on his show, which would violate campaign laws. Sliwa said he was considering quitting his show, but would only make a decision after he garnered enough signatures to appear on the ballot for the Republican primaries.[37] After officially declaring his candidacy in March 2021, Sliwa's radio program went on hiatus.[38][39]

Politics[edit]

In September 2016, Sliwa launched a successful hostile takeover of the Reform Party of New York State.[40] The party lost its ballot access in the November 2018 elections.[41]

In December 2019, Sliwa declared in an interview that he hated then Republican President of the United States Donald Trump, calling him a "screwball and a crackpot".[42] In February 2021, weeks after Trump left office, Sliwa switched from the Reform Party to the Republican Party.[43]

2021 mayoral campaign[edit]

Sliwa announced on March 8, 2020, that he would be running for mayor of New York City in 2021 as a Republican, seeking to become the 110th mayor of New York City.[44] Billionaire businessman John Catsimatidis, who had earlier mulled a mayoral run, endorsed Sliwa, who had become an employee of his after his 2020 purchase of WABC from Cumulus Media.[45]

Once friends, the primary race turned Sliwa and Fernando Mateo into bitter rivals.[46] The Manhattan, Queens and Bronx Republican parties endorsed Mateo, while the Staten Island and Brooklyn Republican parties endorsed Sliwa.[46] Sliwa criticized Mateo for donating to the 2017 re-election campaign of Mayor Bill de Blasio, a Democrat, and Sliwa also accused Mateo of breaking the law; Mateo replied that Sliwa's accusations were bogus and shameful.[46][47]

During the campaign, Mateo and Sliwa clashed over loyalty to former president Donald Trump.[48][49] Mateo believes that Trump won the 2020 presidential election;[49] by contrast, Sliwa did not support Trump in either 2016 or 2020,[48][50] and does not support Trump's claims of election fraud.[49] The unofficial results showed Sliwa winning by 72 to 28 percent.[51]

Sliwa has run on a platform opposing the defund the police movement, supporting a property tax overhaul so that working-class residents would not pay higher property taxes than wealthy citizens, keeping in place the Specialized High Schools Admissions Test while increasing opportunities for vocational training in charter schools, and focusing on fiscal restraint.[52][53][54] He also opposes the killing of unwanted animals and supports making all animal shelters no-kill shelters.[55]

Personal life[edit]

Sliwa at a Toronto gathering, in July 2006

Sliwa has been married four times. He wed his second wife, Lisa Evers, in 1981. At the time, she was National Director of the Guardian Angels[56][57] and co-hosted a WABC-AM radio show called Angels in the Morning. She is also a martial arts expert who briefly trained with the World Wrestling Federation in 1986.[58]

In 2000, Sliwa married his third wife, Mary Galda, a former WABC employee who also served as the Guardian Angels' national director.[59] They have one son, Anthony Chester.[60]

Sliwa was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2010, which he announced publicly on April 20, 2011.[61]

Sliwa was in a relationship with Melinda Katz, the Queens County District Attorney, and separated from her in 2014; they have two children together, conceived in vitro over the previous five years.[62][63] She is named in a court case involving Sliwa, accused by his ex-wife Mary of diverting money to Katz while still married to Mary, as part of a plan to build a "nest egg" with Katz prior to moving in with her.[64][65]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Uhlig, Mark A. (June 17, 1988). "Sliwa, Angels' Founder, A Herald, Not a Cherub". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved October 21, 2021.
  2. ^ Witchel, Alex (November 12, 1992). "BACK ON THE STREET WITH: Curtis Sliwa; Not Invincible, but Standing Fast". The New York Times.
  3. ^ Couric, Katie (December 18, 2005). "Aleta St. James' journey to motherhood". NBC News.
  4. ^ "Brooklyn's Favorite Crime-fighter, Curtis Sliwa, Is Honored by Local Politicians" (PDF). Brooklyn Daily Eagle. March 6, 2008. Archived from the original (PDF) on October 20, 2010.
  5. ^ Witchel, Alex (November 12, 1992). "Back on the Street With: Curtis Sliwa; Not Invincible, but Standing Fast". The New York Times. Retrieved March 4, 2021.
  6. ^ "Guardian Angel founder ambushed in cab". Tampa Bay Times. June 20, 1992. Retrieved March 4, 2021.
  7. ^ a b c Hester, Jere (August 14, 2017). "The early history of the Guardian Angels and their controversial New York City subway patrols". New York Daily News. Retrieved March 4, 2021.
  8. ^ "Curtis Sliwa, CEO and Founder". Guardian Angels. Archived from the original on September 5, 2007. Retrieved September 11, 2007.
  9. ^ "25 Years Later, How The Magnificent 13 Became The Guardian Angels". Archived from the original on March 4, 2016.
  10. ^ Baker, Kevin (May 18, 2015). "'Welcome to Fear City' – the inside story of New York's civil war, 40 years on". The Guardian. Retrieved June 22, 2021.
  11. ^ Hester, Jere (November 9, 1998). "Either Right Or Wrong Angels On Patrol, 1980". Daily News. New York. Retrieved March 26, 2009.
  12. ^ Robbins, William (August 7, 1981). "Effectiveness of Guardian Angels called uncertain". The New York Times. Retrieved March 4, 2021.(subscription required)
  13. ^ Gabbatt, Adam (August 6, 2021). "The cat-loving, beret-wearing Republican who wants to be mayor of New York". The Guardian. Retrieved October 21, 2021.
  14. ^ Price, Michelle L. (October 15, 2021). "Stunts, cats and crime: Sliwa's colorful run for NYC mayor". AP News. Retrieved October 21, 2021.
  15. ^ Wadler, Joyce (April 14, 1981). "'Guardian Angels': Different Gang". The Washington Post. Retrieved March 4, 2021.
  16. ^ David Gonzalez, Police Union To Sue Sliwa Over Hoaxes, New York Times (November 26, 1992).
  17. ^ "James Cunningham, Buffalo Police Commissioner, Dies". The New York Times. Associated Press. January 22, 1984.
  18. ^ Norman, Michael (January 1, 1982). "Guardian Angel is killed by an officer in Newark". The New York Times. Retrieved March 4, 2021.
  19. ^ a b Fowler, Glenn (January 2, 1982). "Death of 'Angel' will be studied by a prosecutor". The New York Times. Retrieved March 4, 2021.
  20. ^ a b Narvaez, Alfonso A. (February 5, 1982). "Officers cleared by a grand jury in 'Angels' case". The New York Times. Retrieved March 4, 2021.
  21. ^ Bennet, James (June 21, 1992). "Koch Visits Sliwa as Investigation Fails to Yield Shooting Suspect". The New York Times. Retrieved June 1, 2009.
  22. ^ Neumeister, Larry (September 28, 2006). "3rd Gotti Jr. Trial Ends in Mistrial". The Washington Post. Associated Press. Retrieved March 26, 2009.
  23. ^ Feuer, Allan (October 20, 2006). "No Fourth Trial for Gotti, Prosecutors Say". The New York Times. Retrieved July 10, 2007.
  24. ^ Zambito, Thomas (November 14, 2006). "Mob Goon's 20 Yrs. Moves Sliwa to Tears". Daily News. New York. Archived from the original on December 1, 2009. Retrieved March 26, 2009.
  25. ^ Campanile, Carl (December 25, 2004). "'LITTLE NICKY' IS EYED IN GOTTI HITS". New York Post. Retrieved September 25, 2015.
  26. ^ Collins, Glenn (July 17, 2006). "WNYC's Planned Move Will Finish Its Breakup With the City". The New York Times. Retrieved April 30, 2010.
  27. ^ Martin, Douglas (February 9, 1994). "City Radio Gives a Host's Job to Sliwa". The New York Times. Retrieved April 30, 2010.
  28. ^ Nossiter, Adam (April 13, 1996). "Gunman's Tale of Fear, Hatred and Drugs". The New York Times. Retrieved April 30, 2010.
  29. ^ Hinckley, David (November 28, 2007). "Curtis & Kuby will 'go out with their heads high'". Daily News. New York.
  30. ^ Sisario, Ben (January 2, 2014). "Talk Radio on WABC Shifts Focus to the Local". The New York Times.
  31. ^ "Eboni Williams To Co-Host With Curtis Sliwa". Radio Ink. June 7, 2017.
  32. ^ "Juliet Huddy Joins Curtis Sliwa In Middays At WABC". RadioInsight. Retrieved July 7, 2021.
  33. ^ "ABC Radio Networks Launches Curtis Sliwa LIVE" (PDF). ABC Radio Networks. Retrieved May 27, 2013.
  34. ^ "Curtis Sliwa is leaving WABC 770 AM". New York Daily News. New York. November 25, 2009. Archived from the original on September 6, 2012.
  35. ^ "A big 'Apple' welcome for Sliwa". Daily News. New York. December 7, 2009.
  36. ^ "The EIB Network Welcomes New Affiliates". RushLimbaugh.com. January 2, 2014.
  37. ^ Campanile, Carl (February 25, 2021). "Curtis Sliwa accused of boosting mayoral campaign on his radio program". New York Post. Retrieved March 4, 2021.
  38. ^ "Sliwa Goes on Hiatus". Radio Ink. March 2, 2021. Retrieved March 30, 2021.
  39. ^ Balk, Tim (March 15, 2021). "NYC mayor's race gets a late entry: Curtis Sliwa, Guardian Angels founder as GOP contender". New York Daily News. Retrieved March 30, 2021.
  40. ^ Mahoney, Bill (October 31, 2016). "Upstart group wins legal battle over control of the Reform Party". Politico. Retrieved October 31, 2016.
  41. ^ "Reform Party of New York & Women's Equality Party lose ballot status". News Growl. November 7, 2018. Retrieved November 7, 2018.
  42. ^ "One-on-One | Curtis Sliwa on Trump and the State of Today's Media | Season 2020 | Episode 2284" – via video.wttw.com.
  43. ^ "CURTIS SLIWA OFFICIALLY RE-JOINS THE REPUBLICAN PARTY". www.manhattanrepublicanparty.com.
  44. ^ Campanile, Carl (March 8, 2020). "Guardian Angels founder Curtis Sliwa vows to run for mayor". New York Post. Retrieved March 15, 2020.
  45. ^ Levine, Jon (March 27, 2021). "John Catsimatidis' family divided over Republican NYC mayoral primary". New York Post. Retrieved March 30, 2021.
  46. ^ a b c Emma G. Fitzsimmons, How the G.O.P. Primary for Mayor Turned 2 Friends Into Bitter Rivals, New York Times (May 25, 2021).
  47. ^ Benitez, Juan Manuel (February 9, 2021). "Meet the Republican Candidates for New York City Mayor". Spectrum News NY 1. Charter Communications. Retrieved April 30, 2021.
  48. ^ a b Katie Honan, Republican Mayoral Candidates Tussle Over Trump, Party Loyalty, Wall Street Journal (May 26, 2021).
  49. ^ a b c Dana Rubinstein, Jeffery C. Mays, Jazmine Hughes, Anne Barnard, Michael Gold and Mihir Zaveri, Wiley Wins the Progressives: 5 Takeaways From the N.Y.C. Mayor's Race, New York Times (June 7, 2021).
  50. ^ Emma Seiwell, Race for Mayor: Republican Primary A Two-Candidate Race, Gotham Gazette (May 7, 2021).
  51. ^ "New York Primary Election Results". The New York Times. June 24, 2021. Retrieved June 24, 2021.
  52. ^ "Meet the candidate: Curtis Sliwa". www.ny1.com. Retrieved June 29, 2021.
  53. ^ "Why Curtis Sliwa Says He is Serious About Running For Mayor". www.ny1.com. Retrieved June 29, 2021.
  54. ^ Fitzsimmons, Emma G. (May 20, 2021). "What's the Next Mayor of New York's One Big Idea?". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved June 29, 2021.
  55. ^ Durkin, Erin. "'I come right at you': The vigilantelike figure who's running to be the GOP mayor of New York". Politico PRO. Retrieved June 29, 2021.
  56. ^ Carter, E. Graydon (December 28, 1981). "People: Dec. 28, 1981". TIME. Archived from the original on October 15, 2010. Guardian Angels National Director Lisa Evers, 28, who will marry Angels leader Curtis Sliwa, 26, on Christmas Eve in Manhattan
  57. ^ Bernstein, Fred (February 8, 1982). "In a Time of Tragedy and Growth, the Guardian Angels' Curtis Sliwa Relies on His New Wife, Lisa". People.
  58. ^ "Guardian Angel Embodies The Right Attitude". Chicago Tribune. Montreal Gazette. July 21, 1986.
  59. ^ Burke, Cathy (July 9, 2000). "Angel No. 1 Ties Knot with Bride No. 3". New York Post.
  60. ^ Zambito, Thomas (June 14, 2006). "Gotti Goons Target My Boy: Sliwa". Daily News. New York.
  61. ^ "Curtis Sliwa Homepage". Archived from the original on July 30, 2012.
  62. ^ Karni, Annie (April 14, 2012). "Sliwa's a parent & Guardian to secret donor kids with fmr. City Councilwoman Melinda Katz". New York Post. Retrieved April 19, 2012.
  63. ^ Chung, Jen (April 15, 2012). "Curtis Sliwa Was Ex-Council Member Melinda Katz's Sperm Donor And Now They're Getting Married". Gothamist. Archived from the original on April 19, 2012. Retrieved April 19, 2012.
  64. ^ Fanelli, James (May 9, 2013). "Guardian Angels' Curtis Sliwa Swindled Wife During Affair, Lawsuit Says". DNAinfo New York. Archived from the original on July 31, 2013.
  65. ^ Gregorian, Dareh (December 11, 2013). "Curtis Sliwa Child-Support Trial: Queens Borough President-elect Melinda Katz Gets Grilled". New York Daily News.

Further reading[edit]

  • Paterson, David (2020). Black, Blind, & in Charge: A Story of Visionary Leadership and Overcoming Adversity. New York: Skyhorse Publishing.

External links[edit]