Springing up in cities across the nation, superheroes now walk the streets to fight "crime and injustice" wherever they find it. No, these real life superheroes have not mutated into their current superhero forms, nor were they subjected to some laboratory mishap. These are apparently simply ordinary folk trying to do something extraordinary to help their respective communities.
A WLWT story gave the break-down on one superhero in Cincinnati calling himself "Shadowhare" (he would not reveal his identity), who explained what he and others like him do:
"We help enforce the law by doing what we can in legal standards, so we carry handcuffs, pepper spray ... all the legal weapons," said Shadowhare. "We will do citizen's arrests. We will intervene on crimes if there is one happening in front of us."
Although their efforts are, in a sense, commendable with respect to their aims, these crime-fighters may be exposing themselves to significant legal consequences. Unlike police officers, who have a considerable degree of immunity for their actions, and even their mistakes, while on duty, these masked crusaders have no legal shield to protect them from a variety of criminal and civil consequences.
Of course, there is absolutely nothing illegal in being a Good Samaritan and lending a helping hand to folks in need, but police officers are specially and specifically trained in how to deal with the variety of situations they may encounter. Civilians taking on such a role will be viewed by the law through an entirely different lens that is judging the reasonableness of each of their "enforcement" actions (Shadowhare and his friends apparently come equipped with pepper spray, handcuffs, and tasers).
Also, just as importantly, these superheroes are not ... well ... super. That is, they are not impervious to guns, knives, or other forms of force. Although no empirical evidence was found to back this up, it seems at least plausible that someone wandering potentially hazardous streets and/or areas in some kind of unusual get-up might just get targeted themselves. Indeed, Shadowhare himself had a shoulder dislocation a couple of years back while trying to "help a woman who was being attacked." Hopefully, however, as noted by another article by the Times Online, their primary "kryptonite" will be boredom.
At any rate, in closing, anyone outside of Cincinnati worried that they may be lacking superhero coverage in their area, take comfort in the knowledge that Shadowhare is not alone. As noted by the piece:
[Shadowhare] heads up a group of men -- and one woman -- called the "Allegiance of Heroes." The members communicate with each other in online forums. Among the members are Aclyptico in Pennsylvania, Wall Creeper in Colorado and Master Legend in Florida.
"I've even teamed up with Mr. Extreme in California -- San Diego -- and we were trying to track down a rapist," said Shadowhare.
- WLWT: Cincinnati Superhero Patrols Streets Fighting Crime [includes video of "Shadowhare" and Friends]
- Times Online: Amateur crimefighters are surging in the US
- What must a plaintiff prove to recover for an assault or battery? (provided by the Jernigan Law Firm, P.A.)
- World Superhero Registry (www.worldsuperheroregistry.com)
- Criminal Law Center (FindLaw)
- Civil Rights Center (FindLaw)