Milton and Silvia Oliver are from the South Bronx, they’ve been married for 34 years and have been with Guardian Angels since the 1980s.
They met through their passion for martial arts and are now training others, free of charge, through the Guardian Angels.
In seminars, they are teaching attendees how to defend themselves and restrain others without causing injury. They also teach street smarts to help avoid dangerous situations. They demonstrated some of the moves and techniques to us down while we patrolled with them down in the subway system. “You have to be alert. People who wear the headphones I always tell them: take them off. Wear one, when you get off the train take them off, because you don’t know who is following as you are walking down.”
With subway crime on the rise, and after a week where 3 people were shoved onto the tracks in separate incidents, the Guardian Angels have started patrolling with the new recruits that they’ve recruited during the pandemic. “We are here to try avoid [a distressed individual] hurting somebody else and avoid them hurting themselves, and try to get them the help that they need”
Milton and Sylvia walk through the New York Subway system with a familiarity like they are in their own home. As they patrol the subways and walkways, the pair check the tunnels and watch the platforms and keep an eye out for any emotionally disturbed individual who may be a danger to themselves or others, assist the homeless and any person in need of any type of assistance, “we do it all,” said Milton.
“Because of the cold weather, you have a lot of people going back into the subway system.”
“They’ll sit in the train station, waiting to get food, shelter, waiting for someone to give them money and they’ll stay down there couple of weeks, they’ll go a little bit more crazy there because you are looking at four walls, and this is when the anxiety starts to kick in…’I wanna get out, I need to do something’ and they start to hurt people.”