Where Angels Don't Fear to Tread

The reborn Guardian Angels hit the not-so-mean streets of Northeast

In fact, the Angels made an informal visit to the North Side a few days ago, walking 21-strong down a stretch of West Broadway. While the North Side is ground zero for Minneapolis street crime, the decision to patrol there was mainly a matter of convenience. The Angels train at member Alice Splawn's karate studio, which is located on the corner of West Broadway and Emerson Avenue. In the near term, the Angels plan to focus on Northeast, a neighborhood where many of its members reside, and—despite some recent troubles—a relatively peaceable place.

The Angels say their North Side outing was inspiring and more than a little intimidating.

"I was scared as hell. Everybody was," explains new Angel Lorance Siwek, a longtime resident of Northeast. But, Siwek adds, the enthusiastic response from passing pedestrians and motorists—horns honking, shouts of approval—"made the fear go away."

In the still of the night: Murdock—a.k.a. John Schulte—and his fellow Angels
Mike Mosedale
In the still of the night: Murdock—a.k.a. John Schulte—and his fellow Angels

As Sarge's team leaves Central for the leafy side streets, the neighborhood is a watercolor portrait of tranquility. "People enjoying their backyards," Major confirms resolutely. "That's the way it should be." A family outside barbecuing spots the patrol and shouts a round of thanks. This is followed by a request that the Angels stop for a moment. A blond woman sidles up to the picket fence with a complaint. It seems that a tan Chevy Caprice with Mississippi plates has been parked in front of her house for 10 days. The police haven't done anything. Sarge dutifully records the license plate number and promises to raise the matter with the authorities.

At the corner of Monroe and Lowry, Sarge orders the team to "post up." In the Angel lexicon, this means that every member assumes a stationary posture, each facing in a different direction in order to better spot trouble. "We do it so if anyone starts shooting, they can't get us all," Major explains. "You know, drug dealers don't like us very much." At that, he swivels his head and shoots his eyes upward, studying the two-story building he's been leaning against. "Don't need anything dropping down on us," he says. Neither of the mourning doves sitting on the power line above him makes a move.

As it happens, in over two hours of patrol, the Angels encounter no signs of trouble on the streets of Northeast. Occasionally, one unit of Angels waits at the corner until its "shadow team"—another six-member patrol that has been walking on the opposite of the street—has a chance to catch up. Radio contact is maintained at all times.

It's dark by the time Sarge's patrol heads east on Broadway, preparing to loop back to Tom and Colleen's Style and Tanning on Central. "Who are you guys?" asks a punk rocker on a bicycle. His hoodie is emblazoned with the word "Goatwhore." Major and Tank give him the spiel and the pamphlet.

"I don't get it," says Tank, shaking his head. "It's a different breed these days."

At the end of the shift, Sarge's patrol meets up with the other teams. Everyone seems to agree it was a very pleasant walk.

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