Most RLSH are poor. This is a fact. Perhaps the lack of a resource fuels a desire to see change. Maybe indulging in the geek media of comic books and comic book movies as escapism or hobby has influenced RLSH culture greatly. In any case, most RLSH individuals do not have the resources to be… well, Batman.
So we make do. We become creative with the tools we buy or create. We find alternatives to what we need. However, there are some critical resources and tools that we can wisely invest in that will serve our needs, be effective and will not weigh us down.
At one point or another, you will need some tools to do something. I cannot recommend lock picking tools because of the potential for illegal activity. However, a good Leatherman or a sturdy multi-tool is a wise investment all around. It is best to find one that features attachment for different screwdriver heads and a few sockets. I’ve used mine to do everything from changing car batteries, cutting ropes for tents on the street and quick bicycle repair. Take your time and save up for this one. Anyone will find that a Leatherman or multi-tool is handy even if a person chooses not to be an RLSH anymore.
A sturdy flashlight is a must, especially a Mag Light that takes D-size batteries. This can always double as a weapon. I currently use a one million candle powered spotlight, but it offers no practical defense. My purpose is different. Most RLSH operate at night, so lighting is a must when researching clues or scoping out that weird trash mount that turns out to the be a person.
A working First Aid kit is always great. You’d be surprised by the amount of cuts or scrapes one gets into on the streets. On a superficial level, you don’t want any cuts to scar over and creating a identifiable mark. At the same time, you don’t want to bleed all over the place. Any major retail store contains Red Cross approved med kits should contain trauma pads. The training to use them is up to you.
Weapons and self defense items are dependent on your county laws or state laws. Therefore I cannot recommend any solid advice on what to carry or not.
The cell phone has become the most indispensible tool within the RLSH arsenal. Technology nowadays has made our little communication devices into virtual Bat-computers. What I have is low-tech compared to what is out there right now. But I have uploaded the Opera Mini web application which is a great browser that features instant Google and Wikipedia search engine boxes. Your top 9 bookmarks are right on the menu screen. Most RLSH forums are easy to read using Opera. Despite the warnings by Google not to use Google Earth as a GPS, you can use Google Earth as a GPS. My driving has been saved by using Google Earth. I’ve navigated from Portland to obscure locations in Seattle simply by plugging in the addresses and getting driving directions and a map on my phone.
Most cell phones now have the ability to run APIs and widgets. You can buy a webpage and post the odd widget that relays information that you need. I’ve personally been working on this project for myself. Cell phones that have options like voice memo enable you to replace the pen and paper on the field, and you can collect your notes later. Other options like the calendar, calculator or even the alarm clock become vital once you discipline yourself to use them. I would be lost without my phone. All of my contact information is stored on it, and it’s not even an iPhone. I have learned to utilize all the tool functions on it and it is a tremendous resource, especially the speed dial options for the police.
I personally do not recommend buying a Bluetooth for your phone. Bluetooth devices can get knocked off your head. Instead, opt for the low- tech wire mic. If you have a mask, this can be easily incorporated into it. A wire mice would be more difficult to remove off your face and if you lose it you can would be easily replaced.
When you are in the RLSH community, you will find tha you will be in constant communication with one fringe group or another. It is important to invest in a good long distance and text message plan. You will find that it is important to create a In Case of Emergency file or numbers (ICE). When you do drop out of contact with your peers, they can research your whereabouts. It is still somewhat of a tight knit community. Also, you can mass text a group depending on the issue or topic.
It is important to have a digital camera. Recording information with time stamps are vital for evidence. I’ve had my pictures used as evidence in court. An RLSH may not want certain pictures to be viewed by the public, and if this is the case, you can use a disposable camera instead.
Anything more like armor/uniform needs or training is up to the individual. But I believe that these items listed above are the building blocks of a basic patrol kit that a person should have if they do start patrolling the streets like the dark avengers that they are.
Zetaman is a costumed activist located in Portland, Oregon.The views and comments of Zetaman do not reflect on the views of the RLSH community. For more information, visit his sites at www.myspace.com and www.zetaman.tv.