NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – New York’s burgeoning amateur “superhero” community take notice: Don’t try breaking up a fight in Seattle.
The Big Apple is home to countless comic book superheros – and a few self-styled “real” ones.
The New York Initiative is a group of folks who wear costumes and say their goals are patrolling for criminals, public security, humanitarian outreach and more.
Their mission statement, found on their Facebook page, says “We are individuals organized towards achieving peacekeeping objectives and humanitarian missions. This will translate into a variety of non-monetary services as unfolding events demand. Our primary goal will always be to help those in the most need to the highest ethical standard and to the maximum effect.”
News of the arrest of one of their costumed colleagues in Seattle – a man who guys by the name Phoenix Jones – has their Facebook page humming.
The arrest came after a confrontation that was caught on video and is embedded below.
Jones, whose real name is Benjamin Fodor, allegedly used pepper spray on four people. They say they were dancing in the streets; Jones says they were fighting and tried to break it up.
His actions have prompted a response within New York’s superhero community.
“I believe he acted inappropriately in this instance,” Chris Pollak, aka Dark Guardian, told CBSNewYork. The Dark Guardian was featured in a documentary on real life superheroes, and he was seen rousting alleged drug dealers in Washington Square Park.
“He rushed into a situation and reacted with very poor judgement. He maced a group of people who were not attacking him. He was not acting in self defense and the police have rightfully charged him with assault,” Pollak said.
He added that he hopes Phoenix Jones’ actions don’t reflect on the superhero movement.
“This is an example of what not to do as a community crime-fighter. It should be a priority to deescalate situations and work hand in hand with the police to garner the smartest and safest outcome. I stand with the police and want everyone to know he is not a true reflection on what others like myself do in our communities to help,” Pollak said.
Reaction on the Intiative’s Facebook page was also intense.
“That’s what happens when you react the way he did,” self-styled hero Short Cut wrote. “Despite popular belief, you do not fight fire with fire. You are supposed to cool things down.”
“I’m pretty sure he just screwed it up for everyone,” wrote Jack Cero, another self-styled hero. “They now have precedent if his conviction goes through, and what’s more is that his charges will be double due to his body armor and mask.”
However, fan response on Jones’ Facebook page has been pretty massive, with scores of folks leaving messages of support.
What’s your reaction to the arrest and the real-life superhero movement? Sound off in our comments section.