Gotham Cable News

June 9, 2008

Garcetti Tries to Make "Citizens For Batman" an Election Issue

District Attorney Roger Garcetti attempted to revive his lagging campaign by turning the spotlight on a Gotham group charged with illegal vigilante activities.

"I challenge Harvey Dent to denounce and reject Citizens for Batman, an outlaw group which is a breeding ground for the worst type of vigilantism," said Garcetti at a City Hall press conference.

"This illegal group of malcontents and law-breakers must be disbanded," said DA Roger Garcetti. "Citizens for Batman is an outlaw group that is a threat to public safety."

Garcetti's attack on the organization led to a political furor. While many agreed with the District Attorney's criticism of the group, Citizens for Batman claimed that many Gotham citizens support its mission.

Harvey Dent refused to condemn the group, saying that "This intolerable crime wave is forcing many citizens to make terrible choices between doing nothing and doing too much."

It is unclear whether Garcetti's latest gambit will do anything to turn around his dismal poll numbers. But it does raise a question many Gotham observers have been asking.

Is Citizens for Batman a law-abiding group dedicated to supporting Batman and helping Gotham citizens protect themselves?

Or is it an organized gang of outlaws who've moved past support of Batman to aping the avenger's vigilante activities?

The grassroots group sprang up in recent months in response to City Hall's warnings that Batman faces arrest for public vigilantism. Hundreds of Gotham citizens have attended CFB meetings, and many more have attended CFB self-protection training.

The group, however, became known for more than just holding meetings and issuing statements. In the last few weeks, reports of members attempting to arrest people they considered criminals began to concern City Hall.

"We can't have every angry Gotham citizen begin to take the law into their own hands," said Gotham Police spokeswoman Myra Briarhedge. "Gotham City is a city of laws, and everyone must follow them."

In the aftermath of the Gotham Convenient Store melee — where a Citizens For Batman member attempted to arrest a citizen he believed was about to rob the store — official suspicion of the group turned into outright condemnation.

The arrest attempt resulted in the hospitalization of the citizen with a gunshot wound to the shoulder. No charges were filed against the citizen, whose identity has been kept secret. But the Citizens for Batman member who intervened — identified as Josiah Horsian, 19, of Granton — was arrested and charged with attempted manslaughter.

Citizens for Batman claims it is a completely mainstream organization. Brian Douglass, one of the founders of the group, told GCN that the group purged "hardcore elements" that may have been "guilty of caring too much about Gotham citizens."

"We have completely separated ourselves from people that may wrongfully take the law into their own hands," said Douglass. "Citizens for Batman wants only to support Batman and keep Gotham safe, nothing else."

Open Mob War Bolstered Dent's Tough-On-Crime Message

The bitter campaign for District Attorney may have been shaped by the vicious mob war that took more than 100 lives since it started last Thanksgiving Day, polls show.

A recent GCN poll of 415 registered Gotham voters shows that violent crime was the number one issue for 68% of the electorate. And Harvey Dent is considered the candidate best able to tackle violent crime by 61% of voters.

"That's exactly what you want to see if you're Dent's campaign manager," said GCN pollster Clinton Rilley III. "Dent is leading on the issue most important to the voters."

In the race for District Attorney, that edge Dent holds on fighting crime may be the difference between victory and defeat. Even more importantly, observers say, Dent's message has been aided indirectly by the breathless media coverage of the mob war.

"Every time local news leads with the latest mob slaying, Dent picks up more voters," said Dent's media manager Allan Cypes. "It is like getting millions of dollars in campaign advertising given to you for free.

Polling over the past year showed a dramatic increase in Gotham citizens considering violent crime the number one issue facing Gotham since the start of the mob war. Fear of another terror attack, worry over outbreaks of Fear Toxin, and concern over the drug trade all dropped as the mob war focused Gotham attention on violent crime, Rilley said.

"You can't look at the polling and come to any other conclusion than that the mob war has helped Dent's campaign considerably," Rilley said.

The irony of the mob helping the politician some say they loathe the most — Harvey Dent — has not gone unnoticed.

"It's really the law of unintended consequences," said Rilley. "The mob may have given rise to their greatest enemy in Harvey Dent."

While the mob war seems to have ended for now, Harvey Dent may be the man who profited the most from the chaos the battles caused the city.