Curtis Sliwa and Guardian Angels attack Bronx man on live TV after misidentifying him as a "migrant"

New York, New York - Former Republican New York mayoral candidate Curtis Sliwa has come under fire for cheering on vigilantes attacking a "migrant" he claimed had been shoplifting during a live TV interview – only for it to come out the mobbed man was not a migrant after all.

On live TV, former NYC mayoral candidate Curtis Sliwa mistakenly identified a man getting attacked by his own vigilante group, the Guardian Angels, as a "migrant."
On live TV, former NYC mayoral candidate Curtis Sliwa mistakenly identified a man getting attacked by his own vigilante group, the Guardian Angels, as a "migrant."  © SPENCER PLATT / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP

Sliwa, founder of the New York-based anti-migrant vigilante group Guardian Angels, made the startling accusation during a live Fox News interview with Sean Hannity on Tuesday, speaking from Times Square.

After fear mongering over increased arrivals of asylum seekers in NYC, Sliwa claims in the interview, "In fact, our guys have just taken down one of the migrant guys on the corner of 42nd and 7th where all of this has taken place."

"They've taken over," he adds.

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The camera then pans to a group of Guardian Angels members in red sweatshirts shoving another person and roughly dragging him to the ground.

On Wednesday afternoon, New York police said the man they had attacked was not a migrant after all but rather a New Yorker from the Bronx, and that there was no evidence he had shoplifted. Officers added he had been issued a disorderly conduct summons for acting in a loud and threatening manner on the sidewalk.

Sliwa later told the Associated Press he had misidentified the man as a migrant because he was "speaking Spanish" and had been seen with other Spanish speakers on previous Guardian Angels patrols.

Republicans and Democrats stoke immigrants' rights crisis

New York City Mayor Eric Adams has faced criticism for fear mongering and scapegoating migrants, claiming they will "destroy" the city.
New York City Mayor Eric Adams has faced criticism for fear mongering and scapegoating migrants, claiming they will "destroy" the city.  © SPENCER PLATT / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP

The racist incident, captured on live TV, comes amid growing anti-migrant rhetoric and actions on both sides of the political aisle.

Republican governors like Texas' Greg Abbott, Florida's Ron DeSantis, and South Dakota's Kristi Noem are sending more and more troops to the Southern border. Meanwhile, President Joe Biden and many Democrats in Congress are pushing an immigration package that would severely clamp down on the right to seek asylum and further militarize the region.

Border communities are already reporting widespread racial profiling and other human rights violations, which are only expected to get worse if new repressive measures are enacted.

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In New York, Abbott's migrant bussing scheme has resulted in the arrival of tens of thousands of people seeking asylum, prompting Mayor Eric Adams – who defeated Sliwa in the 2021 election – to declare a state of emergency and ramp up his rhetoric criminalizing migrants.

The former NYPD captain, who has claimed migrants will "destroy" the city, was slammed for joining a Bronx police raid earlier this week against an alleged robbery ring comprised of recent migrants. Immigrants' rights advocates say the stunt will only stoke hate against already vulnerable communities, even though the city's crime rate has remained largely unchanged.

Instead, activists and advocates are urging politicians to champion immigration and border policies that recognize the humanity of migrants and people seeking asylum and address the root causes of migration, including US interventionism. Above all, lawmakers and public figures should avoid subjecting Black and brown people to added abuses.

The right to seek asylum is internationally recognized in the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Refugee Convention of 1951, and domestically in the Refugee Act of 1980.

Cover photo: SPENCER PLATT / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP

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