Like Batman, Phoenix Jones patrols the streets in a one-man war against crime. Unlike Batman, Jones is in jail for pepper-spraying a group of citizens.
According to Seattle police, Jones (nom de reality: Benjamin Fodor) pepper-sprayed a group of clubgoers in the early morning hours as they were walking to their car. Reportedly, two of the men involved chased Jones and in the ensuing fracas, police were summoned to the scene.
Fodor is scheduled to appear in court tomorrow, and if convicted faces “up to a year in jail and a $5,000 fine.”
The most intriguing part of this case is that the events in question were captured on video by a (presumably) unaffiliated bystander. The clip (embedded above) shows Jones being alerted to a “huge fight,” rushing down the street, and attempting to break it up. As far as I can tell, he only pulls the pepper spray after members of the group start attacking him.
I never went to law school, not have I recently studied the legalities surrounding masked vigilantes, but based on the video I can’t see any actual assault on the part of Jones. Self-defense, maybe. Going out in public looking like a total nutbar, absolutely. But no actual assault.
Which, now that I think of it, might be part of the problem. People see a guy dressed up in molded rubber body armor, calling himself a “superhero,” and they expect that he’s going to solve problems with a solution straight out of the pages of DC Comics. If Phoenix Jones had waded into the middle of that fight and started dropping people with roundhouse kicks and phoenix-a-rangs (presumably this is what he calls his ‘a-rangs) I think the general public would be far more likely to cheer him on.
Granted, at that point he’s looking at far more serious criminal charges, but once you’ve reached a level where you’re naming bladed throwing weapons after your faux persona, you just can’t worry about what the cops think.