At the intersection of rebellion and redemption, stands Mutinous Angel. Strapped and buckled, his face obscured by a full mask and dark glasses, it’s difficult to discern whether he is friend or foe. And the answer may lie somewhere in between—for at times in his life, he has been both.
“Throughout elementary school, I was kind of a bully and a ringleader” he says candidly. And he grew into that role a little too easily. ““I was kind of a troubled kid, and got put in a special class for ‘bad’ students,” he says, “I got into fights a lot, all through middle school, high school—it was always the same thing.” Growing up in a neighborhood dominated by gangs, the pressure to join, to conform, was immense. “There were times when I was walking home from school, and getting picked on by people in their 20’s.” But in his junior year of high school, things began to change. Change prompted by a chance encounter that would alter the course and trajectory of his life.
“In the 11th grade, I got sent to after-school detention for two weeks,” he says, “and I was brought into the Assistant Principal’s office while she called home to let my parents know why I was in trouble. The whole time she was talking, I was making fun of her, right to her face, which could’ve gotten me kicked out or expelled,” he goes on, “But she didn’t kick me out. She reached out instead. She showed me kindness when I was doing bad, and that got me thinking what a fool I was.” And that was just the beginning of a 180° turnaround.
In time, Mutinous Angel was introduced to the world of the Real Life Superheroes while browsing online. “I thought it was strange that there was this guy in a mask being interviewed, dressed-up as some kind of a superhero,” but it was the mention of a “community” of these like-minded individuals that sparked an interest. Gradually befriending activist heroes in San Francisco’s East Bay via MySpace, “I was invited to go out on patrol with some guys. Being an adventurer, I pretty much said ‘yes,’ just to see what I could get myself into, what I was capable of.” Prior training in martial arts was helpful in getting started, “and originally, I was out almost every night, in dangerous neighborhoods, staking out areas where I thought it was likely trouble would happen—and it did. But now things are different,” he says.
Different because Mutinous Angel is pursuing a career in law enforcement, with a specialization in gang-related work. “I look back and I know,” he says reflectively, “I think of my family, and if they saw me in one of those gangs back then, I would bring them all down with that.” So he hopes to help others recognize that they do, in fact, have a choice to get out of the life, or never get into it altogether.
The tension between the rebellious and the angelic is ongoing for Mutinous Angel, and is reflected in the name he chose. “This character is, I guess, like a type of representation of myself and what I am inside,” he says. “The reason I chose the name is because I’m a follower of God, and while that doesn’t make me perfect, I still have my mistakes. So I rebel against God, and at the same time, try to be his servant. It’s what I am.”
Now, with one foot in the activist community, and the other in the criminal justice system, Mutinous Angel can see more clearly, how critical that Assistant Principal’s intervention truly was. “I know now what I want to do. I want to do this, to safeguard the streets, to return the kindness that changed me. I want to contribute to society, not tear it down.”