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The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Madison Guardian Angels team disappointed with local police

Badger Herald archives

Although Madison’s Guardian Angels are no strangers to stepping in to resolve conflict, members said they were disappointed with the police response after a fight last weekend turned violent.

Members of the non-violent crime deterrent group, recognizable by their red berets, said they are disappointed with local police for not allowing them to press charges against the aggressors because of their involvement in the incident.

Around 1 a.m. Saturday, a fight broke out on Broom Street between Gorham and State, according to Guardian Angels National Director Miguel Fuentes, who usually patrols downtown Madison with groups of four or more.


The situation involved two different groups of men in their mid to late 20s. A man in one group was being particularly aggressive, punching individuals and knocking them down, he said.

“I immediately stepped in, and I had two other Angels with me,” Fuentes said. “I put my arms up to keep the aggressive group from continuing to hit the other guys.”

As soon as the Angels stepped in, Fuentes said the aggressive group turned their hostile behavior away from the original group and toward the Angels’ patrol instead.

Fuentes said when three of the assailants tackled him to the ground, members of the Guardian Angels immediately stepped in and pulled the assailants off. They then proceeded to conduct citizen’s arrests on all members of the aggressive group, he said.

When the police arrived, they took custody of all four suspects, Fuentes said, adding the Guardian Angels expressed interest in pressing charges against the aggressors because of the physical nature of the attack.

“The police didn’t really want to hear our story,” he said. “They didn’t bother taking our information down. They let two guys off at the scene and they took two of the other guys to their hotel.”

At the police station, Fuentes said a Madison Police Department officer told members of the Guardian Angels they would not be allowed to press charges because the police believed no crime had been committed.

However, MPD spokesperson Joel DeSpain said he knew nothing about the incident and had not read any statements or seen any reports about the fight.

After reading a statement sent to The Badger Herald from the Angels, DeSpain said MPD’s command staff is currently in the process of receiving reports and reviewing the case. DeSpain said he did not see any need for an arrest.

“The officers over the weekend, in this particular incident, didn’t have probable cause to arrest anyone,” he said.

Fuentes said police at the station told the Angels they had no legal right to press charges because they were physically involved in the altercation.

He added the Angels were not trying to get physical but sometimes situations require that level of intervention.

“We’re not trying to make arrests,” Fuentes said. “We’re not trying to get physical with anyone, but there’s times we have to.”

Ald. Mike Verveer, District 4, said the Angels have always had a distinctly positive relationship with the police department.

“This is not only the first I’ve heard of the Broom Street incident, but also the first I’ve heard of any complaints from the Guardian Angels as to their relationship with [MPD],” he said. “I really am disturbed to read the Guardian Angel’s [statement] and I’m sure MPD has an explanation for their side of the events.”

DeSpain said the police have previously recognized the group for their service to the city, including presenting the Angels with an award for assisting the department a couple years ago.

Even though the Angels do not believe they have received the support they would like from the police, Fuentes said he is still adamant about seeking justice.

“We still want to press charges. We need to send a message because stuff like this happens all the time,” he said.

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