They prowl the night in Boston, in San Francisco, in Milwaukee, in Minneapolis, even as far away as Australia. Whether they are making the world safer or just weirder remains an open question.
Some go out armed with gear like mace, pepper spray or police batons; others say they carry only cellphones, aiming to be eyes and ears for the police, who in most cities, including Salt Lake City, are keeping a wary distance.
“We’re not endorsing them, supporting them, condemning them or anything else — we’re staying neutral and out of it,” said Detective Joshua Ashdown, a spokesman for the Salt Lake City Police Department. “The ones we endorse are the ones we have trained.”
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Mike Gailey, a burly former bouncer at a strip club whose crime-fighting persona is called Asylum, said that for him, joining the Black Monday Society was partly about making amends for things in his past, like the time he spent collecting debts for drug dealers.
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Another Black Monday patroller described himself as a former gang member. The group’s co-founder, Dave Montgomery, a tattoo artist known in the street as the black-leather-clad Nihilist, said he was a former alcoholic who put on the mask when he stopped drinking.