Seattle's Superhero: Phoenix Jones

Originally posted:
By Michael Orion Powell
Phoenix Jones
Seattle, Washington is a strange place. Compared to most cities, it’s pretty tame. In the area in which I live, massacres have occurred along with drive-by shootings but, unlike cities like Washington D.C. or San Francisco, it somehow is not as obvious when this occurs.
In many ways, this makes it the perfect place to try out the superhero experiment. The films have been wildly successful, from Spider-Man to The Dark Knight. These adventures speak to something deep in the psyche of its audience – a longing for law enforcers who will really bring order. In nearly all of the films, these superheroes end up labelled outlaws by corrupt kleptocrats who should be doing what they have decided to do.
Seattle has plenty of corruption. Its police have abused citizens while its public school districts have stolen money on such a grand scale as to illustrate that they didn’t worry about consequences. The situation may not be as extreme as other places in the world but it is still offensive to people who believe in justice.
From interviews and stories about the guy, Phoenix Jones seems to be fairly serious about what he’s doing. If anyone has ever read comic books, the press was often relied upon to break down the character of various superheroes. (Spider-Man was repeatedly broken down by J. Jonah Jameson, the editor in chief of the Daily Bugle.)
From the Seattle P-I:

Self-proclaimed Seattle superhero Phoenix Jones Guardian of Seattle has received international attention, but a Seattle Weekly’s published Wednesday – the most in-depth article about the man so far – says Jones’ has done far more to get attention from reporters and publicists than he has from cops.
Through May 5, the Weekly reports Jones had called police about 18 incidents, but only two led to arrests.
Regarding Jones’ claims that he’s been assaulted, he refused to give the Weekly medical records and said his doctor wouldn’t be interviewed for fear of losing his medical license.
The Weekly also reports Jones didn’t formally tell police about being shot and stabbed, and the claim that he interrupted a car theft in Lynnwood turned out to be bogus, a Lynnwood police spokeswoman said.
The Weekly’s Keegan Hamilton also reported that in late November 2010, after a story told of police department-wide memo alerting officers to the self-proclaimed superheroes, a man was granted a restraining order against Jones.

It’s too early to really tell if that is how journalists are treating Jones but there does seem to be a general tone of looking at him and his colleagues as a joke. The popularity of comic books, however, comes at a time when public confidence in institutions is at its lowest, and that includes confidence in the press. Maybe it’s time for someone to save the day.

Seattle's real-life superheroes: An instant guide

Originally posted:
A group of self-described “superheroes” have been prowling the streets of Seattle claiming to save people from crime. Who are these costumed crusaders?
Move over, Watchmen. A real-life collective of costumed superheroes has taken to the streets of Seattle to fight for law and order. The Rain City Superhero Movement prowls the city late at night performing good deeds. But Seattle police worry that the amateur crime fighters could end up being seriously injured. Here’s a quick guide to what the caped vigilantes are doing:
Who are these masked men and women?
Seattle investigators have identified nine costumed individuals: Buster Doe, Catastrophe, Gemini, Green Reaper, No Name, Penelope, Phoenix Jones the Guardian of Seattle, Thorn, and Thunder 88. Phoenix Jones, a 22-year-old man who patrols the street in a black cape, fedora, white belt, and mask, revealed his real identity to Seattle police in early November. He is normally driven around by a woman who, wearing no costume, stays in the car while he performs his superhero duties. “So far, no confirmation if this is actually his mom,” says Alison Nastasi at Cinematical.
What do they do?
For the most part, they appear to drive around the city looking for fights to stop. One pair of “heroes” wearing ski masks was spotted in a parked Kia Fate that was later traced to the godmother of one of the “characters.” Another group of vigilantes were discovered by police “dealing with” an angry, golf-club-wielding man. The cops confiscated the club, but none of the anonymous superheroes wanted to press charges for fear of being identified.
Do they have any formal training?
“Everyone on my team either has a military background or a mixed martial arts background,” the man known as Phoenix Jones told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. “We’re well aware of what it costs to do what we do.” Jones told police he regularly wears body armor and a bulletproof vest when patrolling the streets. Other members of the “Movement” carry Tasers, nightsticks, and pepper spray. They say they do not carry guns.
What do the police think?
“Seattle police think they’re silly at best, dangerous at worst,” says Curtis Cartier at Seattle Weekly. One masked vigilante was almost shot by cops after running out of a darkened park, for example. Police say they would rather the costumed avengers help testify against criminals than put themselves in danger.
How do they find out about crimes?
That remains a mystery, says Cartier at Seattle Weekly. “They may have police scanners, they may have inside sources, or simply Internet access to the SPD police blog.” What they don’t have, yet, is a “skyward pointed spotlight of any kind.”
Who are they?
No one knows, but it hasn’t stopped some Seattle types from guessing. Like Bruce Wayne (aka Batman) and Tony Stark (aka Iron Man), “could the men behind the masks be local Seattle millionaires?” wonders the Belltown Blogger. “It’s interesting to imagine Bill Gates or Paul Allen doling out a bit of vigilante justice in our neighborhood.”
Sources: Seattle Post-Intelligencer (2), Seattle Weekly