Phoenix Jones and his band of civilian superheros have been fighting crime on the streets of Seattle, but this weekend Jones was on the other side of the law. Jones was unmasked by police after they arrested him for spraying a group of people with pepper spray.
Yes, Phoenix Jones true identity was released to the public. Benjamin Francis was arrested early Sunday morning while still wearing his black and gold costume and his bullet-proof vest. Yahoo reports that Francis is part of the civilian superhero group the Rain City Superhero Movement.
Jones said that he was trying to stop a fight under a Seattle bridge, but police arrested him for assault.
Detective Mark Jamieson, a Seattle Police Department public information officer said:
“In this particular case, he perceived that this group was fighting and when we contacted them, they said they weren’t fighting. Unfortunately, he used force. He committed a crime, an assault against these individuals. That’s against the law.”
Peter Tangen, a photographer who also works as a spokesman for Phoenix Jones, said:
“The first thing Phoenix did was to scream out to call 911. He’s been doing this four or five nights a week this entire year and he has never been charged with a crime. To assert that he ran into a bunch of people dancing and pepper sprayed them is entirely inconsistent with what he has done consistently this entire year.”
Jones told Good Morning America in January that he hopes that the Rain City Superhero Movement inspires people to be more pro-active in their communities.
“It’s a pretty simple message. Citizens need to be more accountable. Calling 911 is a great start, but it’s not the end all to end all. Criminals feel free to just run wild in my city, and I’m not going to stand for it.”
But police don’t exactly agree with Jones’ philosophy. Jamieson said that it’s only a matter of time until someone seriously gets injured because of a civilian superhero.
“We applaud their civic-mindedness and that they want to be involved. That’s all great. The problem and the concern that we have is that somebody is going to get hurt. They don’t have the training. They don’t have the authority.”
What do you think about civilian superheros? Should Phoenix Jones and his superhero pals sit idly by as the world slowly descend into a pit of violence? Is the occasional arrest just part of the job?