NEW INITIATIVE CHAPTER SETS UP IN THE SEVEN CITIES
Heroes in the Night has reported a few times on the New York Initiative (NYI), a Brooklyn based group that started with four room mates who formed a crime fighting and community outreach team, and now has expanded to over a dozen members in the five boroughs.
A new partnership has led to the formation of the Virginia Initiative (VAI), based in the Seven Cities area of Southeast Virginia (the internet tells me these seven cities are- Norfolk, Chesapeake, Hampton, Newport News, Portsmouth, Suffolk, and Virginia Beach.)
The group was founded by Death's Head Moth (DHM for short) and Ira Ui'Raghallaigh, and includes two other prospective members. The VAI is actively hoping to recruit more members to help them cover the seven cities. Heroes in the Night recently conducted an e-mail interview with Ira Ui'Raghallaigh, and excerpts from this interview follow.
I started by asking Ira about his unique name. He explains:
"In traditional Latin scripture 'Ira' was the name of the demon representing the cardinal sin wrath, something I'm frequently guilty of as I have a very short temper. It's one thing to call yourself 'WRATH' and to sound like a batman villain, but aside from sounding like some vaudevillian boxer or thug, Ira Ui'Raghallaigh just has an unsettling, badass ring to it in my opinion.
Ui'Raghallaigh is the Gael spelling of my family name. It's pronounced O'Riley. Again I take great pride in my heritage and know everything about my family. Customs agents butchered our name and turned it into 'Riley' but I'm taking the name back. Also I think it coincides well with the message I want people to get from what I do: take pride in where you come from, and take care to preserve what's yours. That to me is very important and one of the main reasons I do what I do."
Ira calls himself an X-ALT (as opposed to a RLSH) and says this path began for him when he became angered by increasing gang presence in the Seven Cities. He began with his research and studying of gangs.
“I spent countless hours studying nothing but gang activity and organized crime in Virginia and North Carolina and compiled a wealth of information including gang markers, tags, terminology, identifiers, locations, etc., all for the sake of interest. It wasn't until I started hearing about isolated incidents in downtown Norfolk, my stomping ground, that I decided to start snooping around. It wasn't anything I got overly enthusiastic about to the point that I went out armed to the teeth, more just a 'shits going down an I'm gonna see what's up' kind of deal, Guardian Angels foot patrol type stuff, but something about walking the streets, checking around corners, looming through parking garages and scouting with a pair of binoculars from roof tops of buildings seemed all too charming to just make a once in a while deal. At first, admittedly, it was more about the thrill.”
His first patrols were with friends and were slow, but eventually he saw action.
"One night I just happened to be in the right place at the right time and got into a fisticuffs with a guy who was standing as a look out while another guy attempted a mugging. When the other guy saw I had the upper hand I guess he assumed they were screwed and he fled and left his buddy behind.
The victim got in her car and hauled ass but by the time I cleared three flights of stairs down and across the neighborhood I realize I had possibly just prevented a robbery or worse a murder and the rush was so intense all I could do was laugh."
Ira then stumbled upon fellow Virginian Death’s Head Moth.
"I found him (online)and thought 'this guy is either batshit insane or really has the brass to put on spandex and a mask to go out and do what I've been TRYING to do for three years now.' I thought of donning a mask and going out 'crimefighter' style but figured I had a ways to go before I was on his level.
So a few years later after a conversation with Zero (of the NYI) I got DHM's contact number in order to make a connection with someone who, presumably, was at least relatively closer to me than the guys in the NYI. After talking to him for a few minutes I found out that he moved right down the street from me. The shock was indescribable. I felt then like it was kinda meant to happen. Zero told me he was putting DHM and I in charge of what would eventually be the VA initiative and he had no idea DHM had moved so close to me. I'm a firm believer in fate and if that whole scenario doesn't say something, what does?"
Death's Head Moth
As communication continued between Virginia and New York, the concept of a Virginia Initiative grew. Ira explains-
"I was hesitant to talk to Zero about handing us our own branch because he is very particular about who he trusts carrying that affiliation [the Initiative], as he very well should be. Zero and I have spoken for the past year or so about our line of work to the point that he knows I mean business. After meeting DHM it was clear that the most reasonable thig to do was expand the reach of the Initiative so he named us the head. He also knows through DHM that I'm about my business so for him there was little question that, paired with DHM, I was capable of starting a branch here."
Ira also talked about the relationship between the two groups-
"There isn't a lot that sets us apart, lest you count the distance. There is a different type of criminal element that exists here. This area therefore needs a different type of 'hero'. We're not the guys in the NYI and never will be, but so long as we keep close contact and work with them to spread out message and recruit new help not just along the east coast but nation wide I promise you this: those in the 7 cities who live their lives to do others harm, on a great or small scale all the same, will have something to fear and look out for. With the help of the NYI, the VAI will do whatever it takes to bring a greater sense of order to not just our community but also to those around us."
Some of the members of the NYI
Ira also talked about some of the VAI's goals:
"We'd like to build a healthy relationship with local law enforcement to the point that we don't have to worry about cops stopping us for snooping around violent neighborhoods at 3am. I want the VA initiative to be something that people accept, that will make them feel a little bit safer. So they know when the bogey man is right behind them as they walk to their cars late at night there's an even bigger predator right behind him/them who has been hunting them for a long time. That's what we do: we hunt. We're not just out there HOPING to find something to take part in, we scout these areas, we have statistics charted and names on a list. We have the face of sexual predators and the address of repeat offenders. We narrow all criminal activity of one particular type to one point and corral all those in question into one location to make it easier to spot them. I can't give away too much but let me just say that, all parties considered, the NYI and the VAI are a hell of a force to be reckoned with."
Ira also states a main goal for the group is recruitment.
"Our main area of focus for the time being is recruitment of new members. There are 7 cities in our region and all of them need to be swept, thoroughly. It will take a lot more than the power of four to deal with our mess."