The DoomWatch Patrol emerges from a dark alley in downtown Salt Lake City. Save for a drunken reveler’s distant yell, all is quiet here. Still determined, they carry on into the 2 a.m. chill to fight their arch nemesis: apathy.
A group of local safety-minded citizens who dress in DIY costumes and patrol downtown several times a month, The DoomWatch Patrol are not a band vigilantes. While they kinda fight crime, their primary goal in walking the streets is to encourage a culture of activism and to raise awareness about homelessness.
“Sometimes, when you’re out there, things can go crazy,” says group leader FlameWing (real name withheld by request). “But mostly we are just trying to promote activism.”
“If you see a businessman give a homeless guy five bucks, you probably won’t remember it the next day,” he continues. “But if you see someone dressed up as a superhero help them, you’ll probably remember it for the rest of your life.”
The DoomWatch Patrol began its bold and brave mission during the summer of 2014 as a spin-off from another local superhero clique, The Black Monday Society, whose crime-fighting activities had severely waned over the past year.
The former group was founded in 2006 by tattoo artist Dave Montgomery (known as Nihilist), and at one point had a membership of 19. But burnout set in and the group, which FlameWing had become a member of, slowly halted its activities of keeping the streets safe.
So, FlameWing branched out, and Montgomery bestowed the name DoomWatch Patrol on the new faction. FlameWing is joined on most patrols by HellHawk and Red Voltage, as well as a few other sporadic characters.
They are part of a worldwide network of some 150 real-life superheroes, with two-thirds of those based in the U.S., FlameWing guesses, based on his participation in an online registry of real-life superheroes.
Reactions from the citizens of Salt Lake City—many of them intoxicated this late into the night—range from ecstatic and throwing high-fives to yelling taunts about Halloween being over a month ago. The DoomWatch Patrol takes it all in stride as they walk the area from Pioneer Park to The Road Home over to Main Street. The police reaction can also range from encouraging to ambivalent, FlameWing says.
The DoomWatch Patrol has broken up a half-dozen fights, FlameWing guesses; they carry batons, mace, handcuffs, and tasers, and wear bulletproof vests. However, their activities are largely centered around donating clothing and food to the homeless. The group has distributed more than 10 duffel bags filled with clothes and more than 200 sandwiches and snacks to folks living on the streets and in shelters. The DoomWatch Patrol also picks up a lot of litter.
Photographer and award-winning journalist Austen Diamond specializes in creative portraiture, commercial photography and editorial photojournalism. For booking inquiries and to view his portfolio, go to www.AustenDiamond.com.