Curtis Sliwa, the leader of the NYC-based safety enforcement group, Guardian Angels, made the grave mistake of misidentifying a man from the Bronx as a Venezuelan migrant on camera, as fellow members of the group got into a violent altercation with the man in Times Square.
On Thursday, two days after this incident occurred, Sliwa came under heavy fire for the televised mistake, getting backlash from a broad swath of elected officials and resident New Yorkers.
During a live interview on Tuesday night on national Fox TV, Sliwa erroneously identified the Bronxite as an asylum seeker from Venezuela, likely as a means of justifying his physical attack on the man– which took place just before– who reportedly did not instigate the situation.
“Washed-up comic book villain instructed his herd of wannabe vigilantes to beat up a guy they decided ‘looked like’ a migrant. A hate crime,” Brooklyn Councilman Justin Brannan wrote on X. “Live on TV. Violence of any kind, whether against cops or innocent people in Times Sq, must be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”
“The wheels of justice must move at an appropriate pace. We don’t have the luxury to do what we saw Curtis Sliwa do,” stated Mayor Eric Adams- who was Sliwa’s opponent during the 2021 mayoral election- at an unrelated press briefing with Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg. “To see someone on the corner and, based on their ethnicity, automatically identify them as a migrant or asylum seeker, and not a longtime Bronx resident- that is not what we can do. We have to get it right.”
Other elected officials also publicly reprimanded Sliwa’s abrasive actions.
“This is not the Wild West. This is New York State,” said Gov. Kathy Hochul while on CNN on Thursday morning.
“This kind of racism has no place in our city. Unfortunately, Curtis Sliwa went to his usual worst instincts,” Scott Stringer, the former Comptroller of New York City and a possible Democratic mayoral candidate in the 2025 election, saiying, “I look forward as a potential Democratic nominee to debating this warmed-over MAGA Republican in 2025.”
Since the incident, Sliwa has admitted to the Daily News on Thursday that he could have been “milder and calmer” during the televised episode.