What happened to Phoenix Jones?

In 2011, CNN announced that the Seattle police had arrested Phoenix Jones, a self-styled superhero and member of the Rain City Superhero movement. According to the report, Phoenix Jones "came up from behind and pepper sprayed [a] group" who "were dancing and having a good time" as they left a nightclub in Seattle's downtown. Jones explained that he was merely breaking up a fight. The police rolled their eyes, but released Jones without bond. By now, the superhero was a known quantity.

In November of the previous year, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer brought Phoenix Jones and the Rain City Superhero Movement to the public's attention. The explicit purpose of the group was to embody the values of superheroes and perform good deeds for their community. By this, they seem to have meant getting involved in more minor misdemeanors, such as drunken belligerency and drug dealing. In an amused tone, the police commented how lucky it was none of them had been hurt yet: "[A] caped crusader dressed in black was nearly shot when he came running out of a dark park." 

Phoenix Jones, for his part, claims to have been stabbed while trying to halt a drug deal — but police say he may not even have been wounded. However, he still upgraded his costume of tights and a fedora to an armor set, including a ballistic vest and a ballistic cup. As much as one may want to smile at a person's antics, Phoenix Jones took his vocation seriously. 

Secret identity revealed

For a year, Phoenix Jones managed to keep his secret identity hidden, but his arrest made it public knowledge. As the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported at the time of his arrest, Phoenix Jones's real name was Benjamin Fodor, a local mixed martial arts champion. His current record, which is readily available on the official website of mixed martial arts, is nine wins, three losses, and one draw since his 2010 debut as a professional and an undefeated amateur career. 

A few months later, more details were revealed in Metro. Fodor, a middle child of five, was sent to an orphanage from his infancy until he was five, during which his mother was arrested for dealing drugs out of a pram. From five to seven, he lived with his father, who tried  to rob a convenience store while Fodor was in the car: His father was shot and killed in the attempt. Fodor worked with autistic children for a while, but his license was revoked due to the charges. Nonetheless, Phoenix Jones continued his mission in Seattle. Stories featuring Jones, over the next year, included Gawker's piece about him pepper spraying protesters — while he claimed to have been the victim, on Twitter — and KING5's coverage of him brawling with a man in an orange shirt.

"As of today, the Rain City Superhero Movement is over"

Phoenix Jones' efforts to initiate the dawn of real-life superheroes never really took off, as further evidenced by Phoenix Jones's termination of the Rain City Superhero Movement on May 29, 2014. As quoted bu KEKB in Phoenix Jones's eternally capitalized prose: "REALLY THOUGHT THAT HAVING A LARGE GROUP OF CIVILIAN CRIME FIGHTERS WAS A GOOD IDEA... I WAS WRONG. IT TAKES A CERTAIN TYPE OF PERSON TO DO THIS JOB CORRECTLY, AND UNFORTUNATELY, I HAVE INSPIRED, WORKED WITH, AND EVEN TAUGHT SOME OF THE WRONG KINDS OF PEOPLE."

However, just because he terminated the league doesn't mean that he himself was giving in. He reiterated that he would continue with his patrols while holding himself to the standard that some of his comrades failed to live up to.

Yet, the vigilante life was too much, even for Phoenix Jones. In 2019, he informed NW Nerd of his retirement: " The shots. The stabbings. The bullets. It wasn't worth it. No one got it. Maybe I stopped an individual situation, but people were supposed to get better." He related one incident where, while prowling the rooftops, he saw a mugging, but it took him five minutes to get to the ground. He bought a net gun, but trapped himself. The biggest turn away from patrolling, however, was that he no longer felt the need to fight crime and get shot upon waking each morning: "I really don't feel it."

Phoenix Jones in 2020

Phoenix Jones did not remain retired from the public eye for long, however. On January 28, 2020, the Seattle Times revealed that Benjamin Fodor, the man who dressed up as a superhero to stop drug dealing from happening in Seattle, was a drug dealer. The two confidential witnesses who told the Seattle detectives said they were shocked that he hadn't been caught yet.

Even more recently, he became vocal during the protests that arose from the murder of George Floyd, and the creation of the autonomous zone in Seattle. MyNorthwest.com reported that Phoenix Jones was out of retirement. As a Black superhero, and someone who believed that, in his words, "[Black Lives Matter] is a good idea that needs to be pushed in America," Jones nonetheless felt conflicted about the autonomous zone: "Black lives matter, obviously, everyone agrees with that, but there's a lot of other stuff in there that's kind of weird. And then there's the antifa angle and all these other different things. But no matter what that is, taking over six city blocks is just illegal." 

Perhaps due to such ambivalence, the zone refused, in KUOW's reporting, to allow superheroes into the zone. Jones's capitalized response on Twitter was "NOW ITS NO LONGER A FREE ZONE? FIRST NO POLICE, THEN NO WHITES, AND FINALLY NO SUPERHEROES. GIVE IT A BREAK I PATROL WHERE PEOPLE NEED ME TO BE. JONES OUT." 

And so, the saga of Phoenix Jones continues.