The recent spike in anti-gay crimes in New York City has driven a group of real-life superheroes to patrol the streets of Greenwich Village looking for homophobic criminals.
They are called The New York Initiative. The group of eight uses code names, bullet proof vests, and employ varied levels of martial arts to fight crime.
Several anti-gay attacks have made headlines in recent months in the Big Apple. One attack in May claimed the life of Mark Carson, a 32-year-old gay man who was shot in the head as he walked back to this home with a companion. The incident drew protests by LGBT community members in the Greenwich Village area.
This is why The New York Initiative decided to step in, said Chris Pollack, a martial arts instructor who uses the code name “Dark Guardian” and is the groups leader. They will increase their presence in Greenwich Village to prevent future hate crimes.
“Violence on its own is wrong, and it's even worse when a specific group is being targeted,” Pollack told DNAinfo. “We care about everyone, from every walk of life, and we want to keep everybody safe. Our focus now is the Village.”
The Initiative Collective has 11 branches nationally, according to its website.
“We calm down situations,” he said. “If there are a bunch of people banded together, are less likely to become violent.”
The New York Initiative will offer a self-defense workshop in the East Village's Tompkins Square Park on Sunday, July 7, at 4 p.m.