"Citizens for Batman"
Make T-Shirts, Lobby City Hall
Each of the more than 100 Gothamites gathered at the first "Citizens for Batman" meeting came for their own reasons. Two are dockyard steelworkers rescued by Batman during a botched mob hit. One is a Gotham Heights lawyer who lost his wife to a random street killing. Another is a furniture salesman in the East End who has seen his neighborhood fall to crime and drugs.
From every corner of Gotham, they converged on a community center downtown to hear how they could help Batman's quest to make the city safe. And every one of them left the meeting with the new group's t-shirt, buttons, and directions on how to lobby City Hall to support the controversial crime-fighter.
The founder of the group, Gotham police officer Brian Douglass, welcomed the diverse crowd.
"None of us here knows who Batman is, why he does what he does, or what's going to happen to him. But all of us know that Batman has given us all hope, hope that there is a place in Gotham for good citizens, law-abiding citizens, citizens that want a life free of fear," Douglass said.
The crowd applauded several times, and at many moments the meeting took on the flavor of an exuberant revival meeting. Several people recounted their own brush with crime, and broke down in tears before being cheered up by hugs and pro-Batman stickers.
Drew Nivvens, 39, of Gotham Heights, told of walking with his wife after celebrating their anniversary. "A car pulled up, and I heard shots, and then I looked at the car and the monsters in there were celebrating and whooping. I turned back to my wife and she was...she was gone," Nivvens said before the recollection became too much for him.
Nivvens said that the appearance of Batman on the Gotham scene gave him hope. "If Batman can save one man from going through what I went through, then we all have to fight like dogs to keep him on the streets."
Jim Laviarno, 34, a steelworker from Granton, recalled the mob shootout that Batman saved him from. "I wouldn't be here if it wasn't for that guy. They call him crazy, but it's us who are crazy if we just roll over and do nothing while the murderers own the streets," Laviarno said.
Participants in the meeting were asked to sign up neighbors, friends, and family members and bring them to the next meeting. They were also given phone numbers, office addresses, and emails of Gotham's top officials.