NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – With a string of attacks against gay men in the city recently, a group of real-life superheroes is suiting up and swooping in to help stop the violence.
WCBS 880’s Alex Silverman spoke with one of them, who goes by the name “Dark Guardian.”
“I’m generally out there at night and I feel it’s my duty to help protect and guard the community,” he told Silverman. “We’re trying to help with this assault problem and also help people be able to handle and defend themselves.”
The Guardian’s real name is Chris Pollak and his day job is martial arts instructor.
He’s been doing it for years, and he’s not alone. Fellow team members are “Zero,” “Spectre,” “Spyder,” and “Eden.” They call themselves the New York Initiative.
“Sometimes you’ll see, sometimes you may not,” he said.
They don’t have superhuman strength, but they all have martial arts skills.
“We wear bullet-proof vests, stab-proof vests, and different types of armor,” he said.
They do safety patrols in different areas, but he told Silverman that where they’re needed most now is in the Village.
“Due to the anti-gay crimes that have been going on out there,” he said. “A particular group, for the way they live their life, being targeted is a really despicable thing and we’re gonna step up and say ‘It’s not right.’ and we’re gonna do something about it.”
In particular, there was the murder of Marc Carson, who was allegedly shot and killed on May 18 by a man who first called him and his partner “f***ots” and asked if they were “gay wrestlers.”
The mission is to de-escalate situations.
“Of course, the first line of action, I think, for anybody, should be to call the police,” Pollak said. “But if somebody’s in real danger, we have the training and skills to help out.”
He said the police response has varied from officer to officer and precinct to precinct, but said “We’re out there as an extra set of eyes and ears for the police.”
“We encourage civilians interested in helping their community to join an established NYPD program in their local precinct,” a Police Department spokesperson told CBS2.
The New York Initiative will offer a self-defense workshop in Tompkins Square Park on Sunday, July 7, at 4 p.m.
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