For decades, fans have thrilled to the fictional exploits of superheroes such as Superman and costumed heros like Batman. But such people, who dedicate their lives to protecting the public, aren’t real. Or are they? Meet Phoenix Jones, the most famous real-life costumed hero in America.
Phoenix Jones & Real Life Superheroes?
The United States, and perhaps the world as well, is on the verge of a costumed hero revolution. Across the nation, some 200 ordinary citizens are donning colorful costumes and heading out into the streets on a regular basis, ostensibly to serve the public. However, these people are quite different from their fictional counterparts. They mostly stick to simple tasks…stuff like community service and neighborhood patrols.
And then there’s Phoenix Jones. Phoenix, pictured above without costume, is perhaps the most famous real-life costumed hero in America. His real name is Benjamin John Francis Fodor and he’s 23 years old. He belongs to a ten-member team called the Rain City Superhero Movement. This Seattle-based squad is probably the closest real life example to the Justice League or the Avengers.
While most costumed heroes prefer to remain on the sidelines, Phoenix is best known for wading into the thick of the action. His weapons include a stun baton, a net gun, and pepper spray. He wears a bulletproof vest and stab plating. And good thing too since he’s been hit with a baseball bat, stabbed, held up at gunpoint, and had his nose broken via a kick to the face.
Phoenix Jones…Hero…or Villain?
A few days ago, Phoenix Jones was arrested and charged with four counts of assault. As best as I can tell, a group of individuals was fighting in the street (they claim they were dancing but later one of the girls in the video admitted there had been a fight). Phoenix along with his sidekick Ghost attempted to break up the altercation. The crowd turned on him and he discharged his pepper spray, hitting a young lady in the face. She went ballistic and went after him with her stiletto heels.
Similar to recent comic book story lines, Phoenix’s arrest has raised concerns regarding the legality of costumed crime fighters. The young lady claims that Phoenix’s behavior was irresponsible. And Seattle policemen have expressed their opinion that bystanders should call 911 rather than attempting to intervene in fights (it should be noted that Phoenix and his comrades called 911 numerous times during the fight).
While some people might agree with Detective Jamieson, a less charitable person would point out that while Phoenix was arrested for the pepper spray discharge, a police officer who did the same thing would receive nothing more than a rebuke. Which, from a certain point of view, places police officers above the very laws they are sworn to protect. As William Grigg put it:
“That’s right: Seattle can’t afford to have oddly dressed people prowling the streets, ready to wade into ambiguous situations and use unnecessary force. Unless, of course, they’re government-licensed purveyors of mayhem, such as Ian Birk – the Seattle Police Officer who murdered local artist John Williams on a street corner in August 2010. Williams, a woodcarver and chronic inebriate, was carrying a carving knife in a crosswalk when Birk pulled up in a cruiser. Seven seconds later, Williams was dead. While Birk was forced to resign from the department, no criminal charges were filed against him. [Phoenix’s] problem, you see, was that he wasn’t wearing a government-issued costume.” ~ William Grigg, Is It ‘Assault,’ or ‘Enforcement’? That Depends on the Costume (Lew Rockwell)
Guerrilla Explorer’s Analysis
Vigilante justice is a controversial topic in America. Many are frightened by the prospect of someone like Phoenix Jones “taking the law into their own hands.” And this is understandable since innocent people will inevitably get hurt. At the same time, our present system of law enforcement leads to innocent people getting hurt everyday. False arrests, police brutality, and police protecting their own from the wheels of justice does happen, perhaps more often than we care to admit.
Modern law enforcement is really just a government monopoly. And monopolies are generally characterized by high costs and substandard service. With that in mind, perhaps there’s room for competition in the law enforcement arena. Maybe, just maybe, there’s a place in this world for costumed heroes like Phoenix Jones.