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Old 04-14-2009, 08:51   #1
The Habit
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Guardian Angels in Roanoke...

I don't see this ending well. When these folks finally do venture into some of the nastier neighborhoods in town I fear they will get a less than warm welcome. I work in Roanoke and up until recently, was a resident of 15 years. There are some pretty rough 'hoods here and these folks would be foolish to make their presence felt.

http://www.roanoke.com/news/roanoke/wb/xp-201024

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A local chapter of the Guardian Angels has formed in Roanoke and has already begun patrols.

Guardian Angel member William Lilly puts out a smoking ash receptacle Tuesday evening during a patrol of Roanoke. The group said catching the fire hazard proved the usefulness of their patrols.

Guardian Angels patrol downtown Roanoke. The group of vigilantes spent Tuesday evening patrolling the market building, farmers market and surrounding areas. The members said they found and eliminated one source of a potential fire.

Guardian Angel members William Lilly (left), Andrew Scruggs and Elizabeth Grimm patrol downtown Roanoke, particularly around the Roanoke City Market.
Dan Casey is The Roanoke Times' metro columnist.

The double takes were many around the Roanoke City Market area last week as six of the valley's newest crime fighters made one of their first patrols.

Some people waved at the small Guardian Angels contingent as members calmly strolled down Campbell Avenue and up Market Street in red berets, white T-shirts, black trousers and laced-up boots.

A few curious onlookers lauded the group. But here and there you could also find some rolled eyes, muffled snickers and disbelieving whispers.

Here? In Roanoke? The Guardian Angels?

None of that fazed chapter president Karen Lilly one bit. To the Salem mom, the smoldering butt bucket they found and doused in a Kirk Avenue alley was solid proof the group is needed.

Lilly, 38, and her two sons and three of their friends founded the chapter April 3, after a visit by some national Guardian Angels organizers. It is one of 143 chapters in 14 countries, according to the guardianangels.org Web site.

The group has seen only light action so far.

Besides the smoky bucket, the Angels happened upon some drunken girls who turned up during an April 4 Easter egg hunt in Salem, Lilly said. Since then, the Angels have been formally told they're unwanted in that city.

Their April 7 meeting with Salem police Chief James Bryant "could have gone a little better," said William Lilly, 15, who goes by the Angels moniker Diesel.

"We want to be here to make a difference," said the chapter's only other female, Elizabeth "Aloha" Martin, 23, who lives near Towers Shopping Center. The chief "said we could get arrested for kidnapping."

Bryant, through a spokesman, said Salem's police don't need any help with public safety.

"I do not want any citizen or group, organized or not, patrolling the streets of Salem," Bryant said. "I would feel responsible if any member of such a group was hurt while trying to keep the peace."

The other members of the Roanoke Valley chapter are Andrew "Grasshopper" Scruggs and Chris "Miagon" Goodwin, both 18, who live in the Deyerle neighborhood in Southwest Roanoke. Karen Lilly's younger son, James, 12, aka Mouse, is a junior Angel.

Most of them were involved in the Roanoke County Police Department's youth Explorer program until the county government pulled the plug on it, Martin said.

That was when Andrew, Chris and William Lilly approached his mom about forming a Guardian Angels chapter.

"They wanted to do something to help the community." Karen Lilly said. "I honestly thought they were pulling my leg."

But the more she looked into it, the better the idea sounded.

"We want to give an alternative to kids. We will train them in martial arts, first aid, and give them tutoring," she said. "The message is: stay safe, stay out of drugs, and do something worthwhile with their lives."

The group patrols with first aid kits and cellphones but never with weapons. Mostly the Angels have so far focused on downtown Roanoke.

But members say they expect to branch out to other neighborhoods such as Southeast Roanoke and Lafayette Park. Neighborhood activists in those areas, such as Jeff Artis, have complained of gang activity in recent years.

"I've heard a lot of frustration on the part of the people that neighborhoods are being overrun," Artis said. Roanoke police have repeatedly denied there are gangs in the city.

But the department seems a bit more tolerant of the Angels than does Salem.

Roanoke police Chief Joe Gaskins "said he can't tell citizens to move to the city, or not move to the city, but all citizens are expected to abide by the law," spokeswoman Aisha Johnson said.
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Old 04-14-2009, 09:14   #2
isnerbs
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I work in Roanoke as well. Are they serious? They put out a smoking cigarette that was in a place designed for smoking cigarettes...
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Old 04-14-2009, 20:55   #3
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sounds like a joke. This group will end up getting hurt.
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Old 04-15-2009, 06:39   #4
Richard Simmons
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They survived in NY and Roanoke ain't no New York, plus they are patrolling downtown Roanoke. If they aren't safe there I guess no one else is either? It's highly doubtful they'll move into Gainesboro for their patrols. I'm all for citizens getting involved in their communities. We all have a responibility and a right to do the same. Most don't
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Last edited by Richard Simmons; 04-15-2009 at 06:44..
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