A team of self-proclaimed "superheroes" has vowed to keep watch over Greenwich Village and West Village streets in the wake of a citywide spike in hate crimes targeting gay men, primarily in those communities, DNAinfo reports.
The superheroes -- Spyder, Spectre, Zero and Dark Guardian -- plan to patrol the streets, protected by bulletproof vests, and help thwart potential crime. They also plan to offer a self-defense workshop next month in Tompkins Square Park to teach awareness and basic techniques.
"We'll focus on how to see what's around you, where trouble might be and how to avoid it. If trouble does come to you, we're going to teach you how to defend yourself," Chris Pollak, the martial artist known as “Dark Guardian,” told DNAinfo.
"Violence on its own is wrong, and it's even worse when a specific group is being targeted," Pollak said.
A series of possible bias attacks
over the last few months has put the city on edge.
On May 18, a 32-year-old man was fatally shot in the head in Greenwich Village after allegedly being taunted with anti-gay slurs. His death sparked rallies and protests as community leaders and residents demanded action be taken to curb the apparent spike in anti-gay attacks.
"We care about everyone, from every walk of life, and we want to keep everybody safe. Our focus now is the Village,” Pollak told DNAinfo.
The superheroes are from the New York Initiative, a volunteer crime-prevention team comprised of seven men and one woman that plans to monitor the Village three nights a week.
The New York Initiative is part of larger group called the Initiative Collective, which has 11 branches nationwide.
Published at 12:44 PM EDT on Jun 4, 2013 | Updated at 1:43 PM EDT on Jun 4, 2013