Seattle’s masked superhero crime fighter “Phoenix Jones” was arrested on suspicion of assault last October 9, for allegedly using pepper spray on people who he claims were fighting.
Phoenix Jones was arrested about 2:30 a.m. on Sunday, October 9 while still wearing his black and gold superhero uniform, and a bullet-proof vest. He was also carrying two cans of pepper spray. Unmasked by police as Benjamin Fodor , Phoenix Jones is the leader of the Rain City Superhero Movement, a group of self-proclaimed superheroes who say they patrol the streets to fight crime.
He perceived that a group of four people were fighting and police say he inserted himself into the situation and pepper sprayed them. He told police and journalists that he was there to “break up the fight”. The police, however, were not present themselves to see the situation and only got the story themselves second-hand, and video shot of the scene at the time does not show conclusively that the participants were “dancing” as they claimed. Prosecutors earlier this week declined to file charges.
Phoenix Jones part of a growing trend of real life superhero teams sprouting up all over the country – but there’s a problem, and a big one. None of these people have real superpowers. All they have is whatever body armor they can muster, and whatever powers and abilities a normal human being has. This is often scarcely enough to keep them safe themselves, let alone giving them ability to keep others safe from harm. Most of what these costumed street activists do – and that’s a more appropriate phrase for them – is help feed the homeless, or remind others of common sense things they can do to keep themselves safe on the city streets. Many are poorly trained, or have no training or background in crime fighting or crime prevention at all, and it may just be a matter of time before one of them gets serious injured, or worse.
In the meantime, this doesn’t seem to be slowing them down any – they’re still out there trying. And in the case of Phoenix Jones, he returned to the streets of Belltown Seattle on October 15th, and was welcomed by the throng. When asked how his life had changed subsequent to his arrest, and how he’s protecting his identity now that that’s been revealed, he told the crowd of a change of address, a change of schools for his two children, a change of car, and possibly a change of haircut.
He still plans on keeping up with Belltown Citizens on Patrol, and still strives to help keep the streets of Seattle safe.
- Facebook – Belltown Citizens on Patrol
- Seattle PI – Recap of Phoenix Jone’s Return to Belltown Streets After His Arrest
- Facebook – Phoenix Jones
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While I commend Phoenix Jones , or is it The Phoenix?, ideals: Those of assisting his own community, and empowering everyday people… I have to pause when it comes to his actions. A rubber suit is far from bullet proof and taking the law into ones own hands is never a good idea.
He is right wen he says we all can ‘patrol’ we all can act when we see a wrong… the part that matters is acting properly and usually that means giving it over to the authorities rather than jumping into the fray.
I like the principles that the Rain City Superhero Movement apparently stands for: come into action when you see something in the streets that isn’t right. Wise move to wear a bullet proof vest under the suit by the way.
What would YOU do if you saw a bunch of people with tempers raised getting into a fight? Would you:
A.) Call the police, and hope that in the 20 min it takes them to get there no one gets hurt.
B.) Mind your own business and walk on.
C.) Try to do something to change the situation and keep people from getting hurt.
I think most people are going to say it depends a lot on the circumstances. If I were in a bad neighborhood and weapons might be involved, myself I’d probably opt for B and, then A when I got out of sight. If real danger weren’t quite so evident, I’d probably go for A FOLLOWED BY C. Would my recourse for acting be to jump in with pepper spray flying? Err, probably not. It would likely start with something more like shouting loudly from across the street, “HEY! Police are on their way! Might want to go your separate ways!”
I seriously hope these people’s number one “weapon” they carry and reach for is a cell phone. That’s both for their own safety and so that they don’t wind up on the wrong side of an assumption by law enforcement like poor Phoenix there. In most places in the U.S. there is such a thing as a citizen’s arrest, but face it: if you aren’t law enforcement, assumptions are likely to be unanimously against you and the burden of proof is going to be mountain-high. Maybe movements like this can HELP to return us to an attitude of a country run by an empowered people, but for better or worse (mostly better, but perhaps worse in some ways) we aren’t quite in the Wild West anymore and it’s going to take a careful approach for a good long time.
There’s a reason costumed crime fighting is relegated to the realm of fiction: it’s highly dangerous, both for the would-be hero and whoever gets caught in the crossfire when violence inevitably occurs. While I can understand and appreciate Mr. Jones’ motivations, the fact is that he is placing himself and his loved ones in danger by engaging in vigilantism. It’s bad enough we have numerous examples of police brutality right here in the U.S. growing to unprecedented levels in the past ten years. Do we really need vigilantes on the streets?
What the real world needs is watchful eyes, the root word in vigilante is vigilance and it means “to keep watch”. How simple is it to keep ones eyes open? To not walk past that car alarm, but instead to look and if something is odd.. report it. To offer a kind word to possibly defuse a fight in the making? To go to hospitals and offer some cheer to sick children? To lend aide when it is safe and prudent to do so?
These are things we all can do, costume or not.
I know that Phoenix Jones is a cross-discipline martial artist, and that he wears a bullet proof vest under that rubber suit -but not all of them do, and not all of them are well trained (and in some cases not at all).
As I understand it, they use the costumes as a way to iconify what they do, pretty much the same thing the JLU does within Second Life. It gives people something to remember, something to look up to, and it’s a sign that help and hope are on the way.
Of course the danger comes in when some guy loads himself up with swords and guns and sand-weighted gloves, wears no armor, spends most of his time on the couch otherwise and expects to be able to function in the streets like Batman. Those guys (and there are some) are a danger to themselves and everyone around them.
Vagabond, you do have a point. I was a member of my city’s police auxiliary for four years. Although we had no arrest power and were not allowed to carry weapons, we did patrol our own neighborhoods, provide assistance to actual police at public events, sat on tows so police could attend to their patrols after stopping or finding vehicles, directed traffic as necessary (such as when water mains broke), and other duties that aided police while not engaging in violence of our own. But even then, we had official sanction from the police department and the city.
Exactly, while it may not seem like much actions like that make a world of difference and are by definition Heroic without really putting yourself or anyone else unduly in harms way. Phoenix is something of an exception to the rule when it comes to “Real life superheros”, most do exactly as you describe… albeit in colorful costumes and characters.
Of the tasks you listed, sitting on the tows and directing traffic are the only ones that stand out needing any any sort of sanction. To anyone considering being a neighborhood hero I suggest asking your local PD for specifics.