NEW YORK - Valerie Clark, who lives on the Upper West Side, has joined the Guardian Angels’ crusade against violence.
“I knew that I was in trouble and in danger, and I thought, ‘I need to be with people who will patrol with me, keep me safe, and help me feel more empowered,’” Clark says.
The single mother of two has spent the past couple of weeks patrolling the Upper West Side and says she has personally witnessed the neighborhood’s rising crime.
“A woman who lives across the street from me, when she was entering her building, was pushed inside and mugged,” she tells FOX 5 NY.
The “Guardian Angels” is an unarmed, civilian patrol group founded by Curtis Sliwa in the late 1970s.
Sliwa says its presence is needed now almost as much as before.
“When violent predators know that they can just come out in broad daylight and shoot at one another indiscriminately and not face any consequences, it’s gonna spread not just here on the Upper West Side but everywhere in the five boroughs and the City of New York,” Sliwa explains.
According to NYPD crime statistics, grand larceny and burglary, in particular, have both increased across the Upper West Side’s two police precincts.
In the 20th precinct between West 59th and West 86th streets, burglaries are up four-hundred percent, and grand larceny is up seventy-five percent compared to the same time last year.
However, Clark says waging peace and protecting her loved ones is a risk worth taking.
“Any mother who loves her children, who loves her community, is going to go out and keep her streets safe,” she says.