When Aaron Sankin asked “Are the Guardian Angels The Solution To The Mission’s Crime Problem, Or Are They Just Crazy?” we were prepared for a response from members of the vigilante group — they have a track record of response to coverage. And they did not disappoint, asserting that we have a “cushy office,” calling him a “a d bag with a chip on his shoulder” and expressing frustration with journalists who, the commenter believes, acknowledges that some say the Angels “look like clowns, they seem to be nutbags, they look fascist, they’re idiots, they’re cop wannabe’s, etc.”

Appeal pal Phil Bronstein (and Appeal contrib and Bronstein staffer Katie Baker) took another tack, using video, not words, to depict the Guardian Angels on their Mission rounds on a recent Friday night.

Baker, who tells the Appeal that she’s “lived in the Mission for awhile, so I’m used to keeping myself safe (not walking home alone too late at night, not, um, accosting gang members)” says her experience with the Angels was eye opening.

“I personally had never noticed them before,” Baker says, “and wasn’t aware they made the situation better, but it seems like they really do make certain people feel more comfortable walking around.”

“I’d say about six or seven people we passed during the two hour patrol called out, ‘thanks so much’ and told us the Guardian Angels make them feel safe.”

Bronstein, who moved to San Francisco in 1970, tells the Appeal that the “thank yous” were not all from white people, or what Bronstein referred to as “the Foreign Cinema crowd.”

“There were people from the neighborhood” who seemed to appreciate having them patrolling the Mission streets, he said.

“They were pleasant folks” Bronstein said of the Angels “They weren’t just police fetishists. They certainly don’t seem to be nutjobs.”

“They shouldn’t be the people to deal with” serious, violent crimes, Bronstein said. “I don’t think they’re designed to deal with complexity…They clean up the periphery, and deter a level of bad social activity.”

I know the video’s longish, but it is pretty engrossing. We polled you before, with Sankin’s article, and now we’re polling you again — does this video change your perception of the Angels, or just confirm your opinion?

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the author

Eve Batey is the editor and publisher of the San Francisco Appeal. She used to be the San Francisco Chronicle's Deputy Managing Editor for Online, and started at the Chronicle as their blogging and interactive editor. Before that, she was a co-founding writer and the lead editor of SFist. She's been in the city since 1997, presently living in the Outer Sunset with her husband, cat, and dog. You can reach Eve at eve@sfappeal.com.

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