Real-life ‘superhero’ group works to keep New York’s streets and subways safe

Originally posted-

By Victoria Taylor

It sounds like something ripped from the pages of a comic book: A group of quasi-costumed crusaders patrolling and protecting New York’s five boroughs in the darkness.

These community watchdogs are real-life “superheroes,” and they scour the streets and subways for wrongdoers and troublemakers.

Known collectively as the New York Initiative, these individuals go by aliases like “Zero,” “Snipe,” “Spyder” and “Dark Guardian” to keep their civilian identities safe. They use skateboards that double as shields, and wear armor made from plastic and metal. The volunteer heroes don’t carry guns, CBS reported.

“Our primary goal will always be to help those in the most need to the highest ethical standard and to the maximum effect,” NYI wrote on its Facebook page.

The group said it works toward “achieving peacekeeping objectives and humanitarian missions.”

“We’re New Yorkers. This is the city we have to protect,” Spyder told CBS 2.

CBS 2 filmed members of the group interacting with a man who they say has been causing problems in Harlem River Park in Manhattan.

The organization told CBS that they “try to de-escalate high-stress situations, and frequently work with law enforcement.”

But the NYPD advocated a more traditional crime-fighting route for those who want to participate.

“We encourage civilians interested in helping their community to join an established NYPD program in their local precinct,” a police department spokesperson told CBS.

Gotham isn’t the only place where everyday people take it upon themselves to keep the streets safe. NYI has 11 branches, including one in London, and there are hundreds of members of the Real Life Superhero (RLSH) community across the country.