Tuesday, October 11, 2011

STATEMENT ON PHOENIX JONES PATROL


A scene from earlier in the night- I take notes near a lamp post, Phoenix Jones talks to a club bouncer, police officers question someone involved in a bar fight.

I have just returned to my home after a trip to the Pacific Northwest- Portland and Seattle. I met a lot of interesting people and participated in a number of activities. I will share these with readers soon, but for now I think it is important I write about a specific event (meanwhile, if you’re curious, you can check out my awesome itinerary in the entry on the blog prior to this one.)

For now I’m going to write about an event involving Phoenix Jones because it has gotten a lot of media attention in the last couple days. I feel it is important to give my eyewitness account of the event for public record, especially as it was not recorded by the Seattle police department.

TESTIMONY OF TEA KRULOS ON PHOENIX JONES CONFRONTATION AND HIS SUBSEQUENT DETAINMENT


My name is Tea Krulos and I am a freelance journalist from Milwaukee, WI. I am writing a book about "real life super heroes" titled Heroes in the Night. As such, I planned a trip to Portland and Seattle to meet real life superheroes including Phoenix Jones and his group. This is my account of the incident, which I am willing to say under oath.

Around 2:30 Sunday morning I was on patrol with Phoenix Jones, video/photographer Ryan McNamee, and a Rain City Superhero Movement member, named Ghost. It had been an eventful night already. Phoenix Jones had intervened in two fights outside of bars in the Pioneer Square area. He used pepper spray in at least one, maybe both cases. Later he was observing a group when a person made threats and brandished a gun. Jones ran across the street and informed police officers, who subsequently detained the individual.

At 2:30 AM we were hanging around 1st Avenue up a ramp from some parking lots near Columbia and Western. Jones was talking with someone on the street that wanted to ask him questions about what he does and take a picture with him.

We heard some loud, aggressive shouting. McNamee said “Phoenix, there's a big fight!” We looked down the ramp and saw a group of 7-9 people in the middle of Columbia Street. The males in the group were pushing and hitting each other and there was a lot of yelling. Jones began to run down the ramp towards them and yelled “CALL 9-11!” As we ran after him, I observed one of the males in the group slam a man into the street and then began kicking him. Two men nearby were grappling with each other.

Jones ran into the middle of the group and yelled “BACK OFF!” a couple times, holding a canister of pepper spray up to display that he was armed with it. He then sprayed one or two of the men who were fighting with the pepper spray.

After this, the scene became very chaotic. The other people in the group had felt the residual effects of the pepper spray. Two females in the group were irate that they had caught some of the pepper spray and that one of their boyfriends had been sprayed. They began to attack Phoenix Jones and Ghost. One of the women repeatedly chased and hit Jones with her high heel shoe. The other woman made a slight effort to hit me and McNamee. I told her to "calm down." Jones yelled "TEA, CALL 911!"

As I was calling 911, a car (a BMW) appeared, did a sharp u-turn and hit one member of the party that had been fighting. It certainly appeared to be intentional. The man that got hit got up and walked away. The car then sped off- Jones chased it down the street shouting out the license plate number. He yelled for me to "CALL 911" again, but I was already on the line. After running after the vehicle, Jones returned. The group of people had moved a little further down the street and congregated in a parking lot. Jones got on the phone with 911 and walked to the block across the street from the group. The females saw him and ran and attacked Jones again. Jones handed me his phone to take over with the 911 dispatcher.

About four of the men, who spoke in Russian, crossed the street. They joined the females and began punching Ghost and McNamee, throwing McNamee into a wall. Jones ran over and dispersed them with more pepper spray. He began leading me, McNamee, and Ghost into putting space between the two groups. As I was walking to catch up with them, still on the phone, one of the men ran up and punched me on the right side of my face. "You are with them! Why?!" He shouted. I told him I wasn't with anyone and told him to back away. I told 911 I had to cut short their questions and take cover because we were "under attack." I cut through an opposing parking lot and half hid behind a concrete pillar. Jones was across the street near an entrance to a ferry terminal. He called for us to cross the street.

I crossed to a median in the middle of the road and talked with Jones for a moment, although I don't remember much of that conversation other than us asking each other if we were ok. We then saw some of the group of people pointing and shouting at us. Two of them ran and got into an Escalade style SUV and revved it up.

"PROTECT YOURSELF--TAKE COVER!" Jones shouted. I crossed the street back to the concrete pillar, where I could keep an eye on both groups of people. The Escalade drove toward Phoenix and he, Ghost, and McNamee went into the ferry terminal to take cover. A man got out of the passenger side of the Escalade and began trying to throw rocks at them. After throwing a few rocks he got back in the Escalade and they returned to the parking lot under the bridge.

Very shortly after that, police arrived on the scene. One squad blocked off the group under the bridge and one squad pulled up near Jones, who waved his arm to flag them down. They instructed him to put his pepper spray on the ground and told him to put his hands on the hood of the squad.

The officers told me, Ghost, and McNamee that we should leave or we would "all be arrested for assault." Ghost took this advice and left. Me and McNamee walked a short distance away so we would not be in the immediate area but could still observe what was going on. We saw the officer instruct Jones to remove his mask and place his ID on the hood of the car. After a minute one of the officers said we should "join the party" and return to the squad. They took our IDs and asked why we were there. We told them and they ran our IDs.

Jones asked if he could put his mask back on since he had been identified. An officer nodded and Jones grabbed his mask, and said in a growling voice-- "GIVE ME BACK MY FACE"- a line the character Rorschach says in the graphic novel Watchmen when he is arrested and demasked. He put his mask back on.

An officer said "this goes for all three of you" and read us our Miranda rights. They handcuffed Jones and placed him in the back of the squad. They returned IDs to me and McNamee and told us to leave. We did not issue statements. From there, me and McNamee, somewhat shook up by the event, started to head back to his car, trying to figure a way that would avoid crossing paths with the other party, as we were afraid if we encountered them they would attack. We eventually got there and McNamee drove me back to a friend's house I was staying at in West Seattle.

UPDATE:
Video added-

Phoenix Jones Stops Assault from Ryan McNamee on Vimeo.

36 comments:

  1. I'm stressed out just reading this. I'm glad things didn't turn out worse... From the sounds of it, they really could have.

    I'm also extremely skeptical. Not towards the behavior of any of you (PJ, Tea, Ryan, Ghost), but as to why it took over 20 minutes for cops to show up, why they didn't take any statements, and why Phoenix was so heavily punished for behavior that, to me, seems like what anyone would WANT to do in that situation. There was a fight, he broke it up, and then he proceeded to contact the police.

    It's black and white, isn't it?

    Do you know the exact charges placed on him? Are they taking Ryan's video into account?

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  2. I can speculate that PJ's lawyers will most likely be using the video as evidence. He is being charged with four counts of assault.

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  3. Tea,

    One is sorry this happened, but glad you're ok, and that the Russians weren't armed and decided to settle this little assault and any witnesses in the area. One doesn't know Seattle, but if they had been Organizatsiya, you would all be dead now.

    http://www.kirotv.com/news/21656617/detail.html

    Perhaps Jones made a judgement error and took risks he wouldn't have normally if he wasn't playing to his audience? You mentioned he brought a bag of show weapons - was he also playing up his act for a byline? One hates to ask, but are you not only witness, but also possibly contributor to the motivation? Will you be called in by either prosecutor and/or defense and your own participation questioned?

    One hopes not, but the important thing is that no one died. This time. Destitution and ruin are still on the table, as legal defenses are quite expensive. Let's hope the PR team has deep pockets and sees the value in maintaining this investment.

    -Lord Malignance

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  4. LM-

    That is something I have considered and has troubled me. But, I do believe he would have taken similar action if he had encountered the fight whether I was along or not.

    I am very willing to speak to prosecutor/ defense if they want me to. Part of the reason of me posting this was to help establish that I was a witness to the event.

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  5. Your testimony will damn him because you just said he ran up on people fighting and maced them and in the process macing other innocent people. He was not defendng himself when he sprayed the group by your own admittance here and now he is lying saying he was only defending himself.

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  6. I note that he sprayed one or two men fighting directly and others in the group suffered residual effects of the spray.

    That is what happened.

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  7. One hopes this doesn't get international exposure as Law Enforcement makes many damning statements in the press about this whole thing. Conjectures in court (and in the press) about what could possibly happen - and what the legal and ethical ramifications of any possible eventuality, and the whole superhero movement itself, would make blogging for the next two years too easy.

    (kidding aside, still really glad no one was hurt)

    -M

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  8. The Watchmen quotation makes it pretty clear this guy can't separate fiction from reality and therefore should not be walking around peppering spraying people at his discretion.

    Fascinating story though.

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  9. After reading the back story and viewing the video I am thoroughly disappointed in how things progressed. Obviously it can be noted that these people were either under the influence. It can clearly be seen that he did what any person should do, and try to stop a fight in progress with a mob of more than 4 people. I know myself on occasion have yelled "Stop" and "I'm calling the cops, you need to stop now". I believe what was done was the right thing to do. Who knows what would have happened to the victim being assaulted. As for the women, I am sadly disgraced by their behavior and have witnessed women acting like this during fights. Especially those involving their boyfriends. If I had to say so myself, I don't think they truly felt the full on residual spray that lingers after the initial spray. I think it was more of a hype and reaction to their boyfriends being pepper sprayed. All in all I support the actions taken place and hope that all involved either learned a lesson and are okay.

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  10. Amazing story. Very accurate with the video evidence provided.

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  11. Haleigh

    I'd love if I could get a police response in 20 minutes. Where I live the average is 45 minutes and many times 911 simply says "well they'll be gone by the time we get there!" as if it's a waste of time to respond. Vigilante justice is the choice we are being left with. I always find it interesting when law enforcement types say "call 911."

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  12. I've been following the media and responses from individuals since it happened. There is a lot of unseen evidence in the video, but it is clear that when PJ is telling the crowd by the Escalade to stay away, PJ is rushed and is defending himself by spraying the two men. Even if PJ gets charged, i want to see the opposing side charged with the same thing.

    As a minnesota-bound rlsh, I find this agitating when there are situations you need to confront, but can't because law enforcers threaten you with things like this.

    Give Phoenix his mask back!

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  13. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  14. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  15. I do thank you for your interest in language, though.

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  16. I hope this is a great lesson to all you real-life superheroes out there who feel such great awe and veneration for the Blue Meanies. They can be even worse than your worse criminals. They're jealous of Phoenix Jones simply for the fact that he relegates them in contrast now that he's an illustrious hero. We're witnessing a piggies' petty ego performance here. I hope they, or the media, don't unveil Jones. I've enjoyed his inscrutability and hope to see him back in action.

    ~CO

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  17. I believe in Phoenix Jones.

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  18. I'm not sure who the anon was that addressed my 20 minutes concern, but you're totally right - I didn't even think of location/time/etc., and you definitely have a point.

    45 minutes?! That's terrifying. The only time I had to wait for an emergency vehicle was when I fell down a flight of stairs... At eight in the morning... On a Tuesday. The timing was quick, but, no one else really needs early, weekday emergency responses (ha). However, it is the law to call 9-1-1... So, in that, PJ & crew were doing a good job.

    (shrug) I'm conflicted with how things panned out. Better decisions could have probably been made, but, then again, I wasn't in the same, high-pressure situation. I feel like the bajillion (16) comments this received made me look at it a bit differently, but I still don't think much blame should be place on Jones; he made decisions on his toes, and he managed to break up a fight that looked like it was going to get pretty ugly.

    Or, a dance.

    Whatever they're calling it.

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  19. So if Pheonix was a police officer making a salary wouldn't we say good job. Woould any of you complain? He does this for all of us. More of us should stand up for our values. One man making a difference is what I see.

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  20. The police and the city should commend Phoenix Jones and the Rcsm for the work they do. I don't live in Seattle, but I have seen some of the videos and photos of what Phoenix and the other people that go out and do this do. I hope they can continue. I wish Phoenix much luck.

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  21. I wasnt there...so I cant say whether he acted responsibly or irresponsibly. All I can say is that the initial incident - according to the video - didnt last long. Decisions were made fast and its now up to the courts to decide what happened.

    Based on what I saw I will say that I do not think Phoenix Jones should have been the only one arrested...If anyone was going to be arrested, then all of them should have been...The officer did not act properly and his actions should be investigated as well.

    But I will not comment beyond that because I know that Monday morning quarterbacks don't make it to the super bowl.

    Thank you Tea for sharing your part of this.

    Crossfire the Crusader

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  22. One of the reasons why the police are so slow, is there dealing with the stupid permanent protesters at WestLake. They should just leave them alone. and worry about cleaning up the real problems. that's why PJ is the best. He is not held back by politics and red tape. I have met him, he seems to be the real thing. yes, he may quote lines from a graphic novel. that doesn't make him crazy. Just shows he draws inspiration from. It feels good to have him and his fellow league out in force. Thanks TEA for working this important story of Heroes from all over. I support them, and I hope he is cleared of the charges.

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  23. ...and what this teaches us is; don't call 911.

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  24. I find it odd, yet not terribly surprising, that no one stayed with the hit and run victim. In Washington, vehicular assault is a class B felony and can carry a sentence of up to 10 years in the pen plus fines.

    This same person was shown holding his head a few moments before. He was probably in shock. If the Jones had stayed with him the chances of Jones getting arrested would have greatly diminished.

    I understand everyone was trying to keep up with Jones but there four were of you.

    Now that the real victim of all this is nowhere to be found. The chances of him coming forward after all of the publicity seems particularly slim.

    And why is video posted in double time? No wonder the camera looks shaky. Any chance we could see the missing frames? I paused through the first part of the fight and thought I saw some signature fighting poses (raised guards, post punch arm extension, etc.) but it is very hard to verify with those missing frames.

    Full disclosure: I grew up with Jones and was a housemate with him for ~6 months a few years ago. Haven't talked to him lately but he has always been hard to get a hold of... maybe I should try his agent ^_^

    I hope all goes well for him at the hearing today.

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  25. I would like to address a so called "time jump conspiracy" in McNamee's video. It is because McNamee gets slammed into wall so hard his camera shuts off for a minute. And that is that.

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  26. Phoenix Jones is Cleared of all Charges! Justice Wins!!!!!!!!!! The idiots didn't even show up to court! lol :)

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  27. So I guess they decided not to press charges. The video is ambiguous enough to leave reasonable doubt on all sides. Whether Phoenix Jones was justified in jumping into the middle of things to begin with is open to debate, but generally self defense laws talk about equal and reasonable force. It is hard to justify pepperspraying a girl, even if she is hitting you, when she is unarmed and you outweigh her by a hundred pounds. I can't tell if he actually sprayed her, but he clearly treatened to several times. And jumping into a fight and pepperspraying everyone in sight is questionable both on legal grounds, and as a superhero tactic. Even if they were fighting and not dancing as the cops claim (you can't tell in the video) it is not like they were standing around beating a helpless victim with clubs. I would say the legal aspect was obviously not cut and dried enough for a conviction, and he got off this time it seems at least in part because of poor handling by the police, but I think at least it was a case of poor judgement. If the superhero movement is going to continue to grow then it needs the support of public opinion. This kind of incident could destroy that support really quickly.

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  28. The weird thing is. The one that hit him a few dozen times with the shoe. She goes by the name Maria, she was on the radio. Saying she never was questioned by the police. She apparently left the scene to wash her face. and when she came back. no one took her statement. She should be the one up for assault.

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  29. Good to hear that the charges were dropped. He did the right thing. It's pathetic how many pseudo-news groups have been spreading this around without acknowledging the fact that he saved someone who was getting kicked while they were down on the ground.

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  30. Phoenix Jones exacerbated a problem at the risk of innocent life for his own personal fame, you mean. Fortunately, Tea was able to escape unharmed, as mentioned above - he was afraid he and his group would be attacked because of the actions of Phoenix Jones. Fortunately, Tea and his party were able to escape the mob violence that Phoenix created, because if he had not been able to escape, he and those in his party might have been seriously harmed if not killed. Because of the actions of Phoenix Jones. Only one hit and run caught on tape. Many assaults, and people fleeing, and hiding in fear. This is just one night of many we can expect when costumed vigilantes are allowed to play batman with real people's lives.

    -Lord Malignance

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  31. Wait, how is hard to justify pepper spraying a "girl" (pretty sure she's a woman, not a child) when she's attacking you...? He asked her to leave him alone repeatedly. What else is he supposed to do - just take it? Assault is assault, plain and simple. It doesn't make it okay to beat a dude with a shoe just because you're female. I'm down with what Crossfire said - it was more than just Phoenix's fault.

    I can see Mal's point, but, then again, Tea and Ryan went, too. I think (I don't want to speak for anyone - just an assumption) they're aware of the risks that come with researching and filming RLSH on a very personal level. Yes, it's dangerous, and from what people who know about self defense (aka, not me) are saying, Phoenix could have handled himself and the situation better.

    I just hope this is a learning experience for everyone in the RLSH community; there is, after all, a lot more at stake, and I feel as though this incident with Phoenix, Tea, and Ryan really proved that.

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  32. Yeah, I've never understood that "there's no excuse for defending yourself from an attacker if the attacker is a woman" mindset. I'm pretty sure it's some kind of blatant chauvinism, or maybe just such a mind-boggling lack of medical knowledge that one can actually think that your tissues and organs can't be damaged if the attacker doesn't hit as hard as you. In either event, PJ merely threatening her with pepper spray, which does significantly less lasting damage than catching a shoe in the temple can, is an admirable model of restraint.

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  33. Hi Tea, I use to post on the forums with great interest. I stopped because the community in some ways is double edged, especially towards Phoenix Jones. I understand journalists generally do not pick sides but just report the facts.

    That being said, this incident is probably the "sacrificial lamb" for those who would probably say "I knew this would happen". I think people will always question Phoenix Jones' tactics with great scrutiny. Though Phoenix Jones' has taken a very aggressive approach in the field of crime fighting, his ideals will never be upheld by those that pursue "crime fighting".

    I would like to know when (if ever) will we hear about your bottom line thoughts or assessment of Phoenix Jones or the concept of RLSHs?? Do I have to wait for your book?? Thanks. Glad nobody was hurt.

    -Crime_Fighter

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  34. In reguards to the pepperspraying a "girl". No offense was intended, yes she is an adult. Self defense laws generally say "equal and reasonable force". And saying that "assault is assault" is kind of simplistic. In order to claim that you were assaulted, or be able to claim self defense, you need to be able to articulate in a court of law in front of a judge and jury, that you believed you were in danger of imminent physical harm. If I point an empty gun at you without telling you it is empty I am guilty of assault because you believed you were being threatened. If a woman slaps someone who is twice her size the gorilla is not going to be able to claim self defense after he knocks her teeth out even if she hit him first because she posed no real threat. Ask any cop or lawyer. I have known blackbelts who found this out the hard way. Equal and reasonable force. Macing someone half your size is neither equal nor reasonable unless they are armed, and I don't think a shoe cuts it. Agree or disagree, this is how the law works. Just because a woman slaps you does not mean you are justified in decking her. Just because she was hitting him with a shoe does not mean he would be justified in macing her or balling up a fist and knocking her down. If she had pulled a knife or a gun it would be a different story, but against a shoe, mace in my opinion would have been an overreaction. Is he supposed to just sit there and take it? Of course not.How about just grabbing her wrists until she calmed down? How about walking away a few minutes earlier which is something he had the opportunity to do? A few boyfriends around changes things obviously, but in other circumstances, yes I might sit there and take it until she tired herself out or I felt like she was going to hurt me. But if I am in body armor with stab plates odds are I am not going to be hurt by a shoe. But then I don't hit women (or anybody) unless I feel like I am in serious danger, and I teach my son to behave the same way. Yes, her behavior was reprehensible, maybe even criminal, but no matter how you slice it you have a 200 pound mixed martial artist in body armor faced off against a girl (sorry, woman) who weighs in at maybe 110 and is armed with a shoe. No court in the nation is going to believe that Jones actually felt like he was in danger from her. Women are almost always given the benefit of the doubt in court because they are assumed to be smaller and weaker. So guys if you think you are going to hit a woman and claim self defense make sure she is armed, otherwise you are probably going to jail. And chauvinist? If respecting women as human beings, thinking that they should be treated well,and protected makes me a chauvinist than so be it. Would you prefer the type of guy who thinks that b***h is an acceptable synonym for female, and slaps around his girlfriend when she gets out of line? I have been nose to nose with that kind of guy more than once in the past and my only regret is that they didn't give me an excuse to put them in the hospital. And for those who think protecting women is sexist, let me ask you this, how many rape victims have you known? I was a martial arts instructor for years and can easily count 7 or 8, including the one who was thrown in the back of a pickup truck by three guys when she was twelve years old. Violence or threats of violence against women are unacceptable. I am surprised I have to make this point, particularly to a woman (Haleigh). Violence or threats against anyone who is smaller and weaker that you is unacceptable, and you can't claim self defense unless you actually feel threatened.

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  35. Another thought, I did not say that someone is never justified in defending themselves against an attacker who is a female. But (I sound like a broken record) you must respond with equal an reasonable force. I have heard of far to many cases,and have personal knowledge of a few, where a neanderthal makes a lewd comment or gooses a woman (or girl in some cases) and she slaps him. Then the guy thinks that because she hit him first he is justified in beating her within an inch of her life. I can think of at least two women at my martial arts school who were involved in exactly this type of situation. In all fairness Jones didn't do anything to her at that point, and in my opinion that is about the only thing he did right in the entire situation. And yes, someone who is smaller than you can do damage, but if you end up in court you had better be able to make a convincing argument that you truly believed that you were in real danger. And I have plenty of anatomical knowledge garnered from nearly 30 years of martial arts experience. I can tell you all about the fatal targets on the human body, as well as the painful but not lethal preassure points, and the best places to strike in order to break bones, rupture internal organs, etc. I know exactly what a shoe to the temple can do, and I also know a total mismatch when I see one. If Jones had peppersprayed or hit that girl (sorry, but she is young enough to be my daughter. From my standpoint she is a girl) he would be in jail right now.

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  36. "If Jones had peppersprayed or hit that girl (sorry, but she is young enough to be my daughter. From my standpoint she is a girl) he would be in jail right now."

    ^... I don't mind if you're saying "girl" to your daughter; it only becomes offensive in cases like this when we're trying to assess the validity of a situation. Saying "girl" makes her seem more innocent... Does that make sense? (Not trying to make you sound dumb, I'm questioning the clarity of my own words here) "Girl" is for people you know, because it has that quality of endearment. Saying it to other people makes it sound demeaning. From what you've said, I know that you don't mean that, but I used to have a boss that called me "girl," and it was so belittling. Just be careful with your words, because I don't want me or anyone else to misread that as something else. Connotation is really important in discussions such as these.

    Also, you didn't have to pull out all of these extreme examples to justify what you're saying, because pepper spraying a woman while she's beating you with a shoe is not even close to being on the same level as women protecting themselves from being raped, so please avoid making that comparison on a blog post concerning Phoenix Jones' question of innocence. It is way too extreme to be in a comparison because he didn't do these things, so that shouldn't even be brought into the equation. That's lumping every kind of violence together, which, despite what you thought I meant, is the last thing anyone should want (and not anything I would ever agree to).

    To clarify, when I said "assault is assault," I meant that the assault that occurred that night is still assault, regardless of gender, and I'm standing behind that.

    "Violence or threats of violence against women are unacceptable. I am surprised I have to make this point, particularly to a woman (Haleigh)." <- This just makes me angry, because it seems as though you are missing the point that VIOLENCE IN ITSELF IS A BAD THING. I once has a friend whose girlfriend broke his nose because she was so drunk and angry (which, honestly, the woman in the video is at least one if not both of those). It's possible for women to cause harm to men, and saying Phoenix shouldn't be able to do anything when he's being hit is insanity. You have to remember when Phoenix rushed in there, he was going in to HELP. He didn't go in guns a'blazin' to kick everyone's ass. He probably should have gotten a better feel for the situation before he rushed in, but considering this same group of people committed a hit-and-run, his instincts don't seem too off. Regardless of what started that fight, Phoenix sought to end it, and while I don't think he was necessarily the most well-trained individual to do this, I also don't think he's guilty of any of those scenarios that you listed in your comments.

    On a different note, don't think for one second that because I disagree with your stance on Phoenix Jones being right or wrong is going to make me think any of those other accusations. That, my friend, is a slippery slope. I'm appreciative of the work you do in self-defense classes; that's awesome, and you're a good guy to devote time to helping women overcome tragedy as well as to work with them to prevent it. I also know that it's a trying position to be in, and that you probably feeling automatically defensive of women when they're in situations like these. Believe me, I'm empathetic/have had enough experience in those matters to get why you feel the way you do, but you have to understand that what I was trying to say is that violence is not gender-exclusive.

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