Vigilante sites promote real-life crime fighting

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By Taylor Bock

We’ve all had exposure to superheroes, growing up with Superman, Spider-man, Batman and countless others.

Some people wish they could suit up and fight crime too. Today’s your lucky day, true believers, because an obscure Internet subculture wants you to slap on some spandex and join up.

Web sites like www.worldsuperheroregistry.com and www.reallifesuperheroes.org keep track of active vigilantes around the world.

As “Citizen Prime” says in a history of RLSH, “Today, the world needs heroes more than ever.”

When you visit the sites, you’ll see a gallery of pictures, masks and aliases. You can read up on where they are and what they do. While some look silly and some are downright impossible to take seriously, they’re all real people.

You might be disappointed when you read the bios in the registry. Names like “Phantom Zero,” “Scavenger” and “Silver Sentinel” conjure images of tough crime fighters. What you get are very committed people who watch over their communities and help whenever they reasonably can.

Most carry items like stun guns, zip ties, flashlights and pepper spray. They tend to help homeless people, break up fights and stop vandalism.

There are some, however, who get more involved. Some, like “Dark Guardian” in New York City, have confronted drug dealers and other potentially dangerous situations. Others, like “Death’s Head Moth” in Virginia, train in martial arts and really do fight local crime.

The ones who do choose to fight not only risk their lives, but risk arrest as well. Laws for citizen arrests only go so far, and authorities don’t take kindly to random vigilantism.

That may explain why so many on the registry stick to small-scale crime and only carry legal weapons. Most help organize fundraisers, support charities and work toward the general health of their communities.

For example, Mr. Ravenblade says in his registry bio: “I am a RLSH operating in the Seattle metro area, who seeks to organize and participate in charity events, fight crime whenever possible, and above all make my community a better place to live.”

Those who feel like joining the opposite side of the spectrum can explore ROACH, the “Ruthless Organization Against Citizen Heroes.” Visit their Web site, www.joinroach.com, for more information or to check out member profiles.

Fair warning: they make those in the superhero registry look normal in comparison.

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