Superheroes roam New York’s streets

Originally posted:
By Nadine Bells
Real-life crime fighters are gaining quite the reputation on the streets of New York City.
They’ve inspired a documentary and a book. The NY Press featured them as a cover story. And now the BBC has spent a night on the streets with the masked avengers.
Like Batman before them, the New York Initiative patrols Gotham’s streets late at night, keeping an eye on “the notorious South Bronx projects, looking for troublemakers and their victims.”
Their presence, they claim, deters public drug deals in the area:
“They’ll see us and take off running,” Samaritan Prime, the alter-ego of an otherwise anonymous New Yorker, told the BBC. “They go to the dark corners that all insects retreat to.”
The masked group — likening itself to “a community block watch or safety patrol” — has patrolled the West Village for muggers, and last year vowed to protect sex workers from the Long Island Serial Killer.
Nitro, Shortcut, Zero, Samaritan Prime and Battlestar are a few of the heroes comprising The New York Initiative (NYI), a splinter group in the worldwide Real Life Superheroes (RLSHs) movement.
The NYI wields weapons — legal and creative ones, such as mouth organs and metal torches — but insists that violence is a last resort, used to protect the innocent.
“I don’t do this to punish the wicked but to protect their victims,” Deaths Head Moth says. “But some people just don’t take kindly to being politely asked to stop what they’re doing.”
Authorities aren’t on-board with civilians taking crime-fighting into their own hands. But Zero criticizes the police’s lack of support, pointing out that cops “don’t show up” when they’re needed most.
Zero has been outspoken on his dislike of the word “superhero,” preferring instead the term “X-ALT,” referring to the personality type known as “extreme altruism.”
A study on the psychopathy of heroism says that “X-altruists are compelled to good, even when doing so makes no sense and brings harm upon them.”
Samaritan Prime also shrugs off any perceived self-importance:
“I’m just a guy in a suit,” he says. “But I’m trying to do what we should all do, which is make life better for everyone.”