The Knockout Game
Brooklyn attack arrest: Is 'knockout game' a hate crime?
Growing reports of the 'knockout game' are forcing police to take a closer look at racial motivations while also being careful to not spark copycat attacks.
http://l.yimg.com/a/i/us/nws/p/csm_logo_115.jpg By Patrik Jonsson November 23, 2013 2:59 PM
Hate crime charges against a black Brooklyn man for assaulting a white man could raise the stakes over what to do about the so-called “knockout game,” where primarily young black men surprise white victims with a rain of punches – sometimes for a $5 bet.
Police have been receiving reports that indicate a wave of “knockout game” incidents primarily in the Northeast, and some police are now beginning to draw connections between individual reports. “I think it’s very real,” Sgt. Tom Connellan told the New York Times. “As opposed to a motive for assault, be it anger or robbery, this is strictly for a game.”
The apparent object of the game is to pick an unsuspecting victim and knock them out with a punch. The perpetrators are often described as ethically challenged teenagers, but the potential racial element has begun to be noticed more broadly by community leaders in places like Brooklyn.
Quoted by a local TV news station, Brooklyn Rabbi Yaacov Behrmann said that he believes the assaults are part of “a disturbing game by some African-American teens.”
Some experts insist the game is a “myth” that attempts to correlate unrelated attacks into a pattern with racial overtones. Parents of teens have referred to the attacks as “pranks” that spiral out of control. Police have also been reluctant to make too big of a deal about the attacks, concerned about creating the atmosphere for copy cat crimes.
But others contend there’s a buzz among youth about the game, and troubling instances seem to be cropping up with more regularity, according to some police sources. Police, too, have begun to respond in a more organized way, with some jurisdictions beefing up patrols and increasingly exploring hate crime charges.
Earlier this month, three Hoboken teenagers were charged with murder for killing a homeless man during an apparent “knockout game” attack. Police officials in Syracuse said the city had seen two such attacks this year, both of which were fatal. New York police this week reported seven instances of the “knockout game” in recent weeks.
Some media organizations have compiled dozens of examples of the game in recent years, and a St. Louis judge recently suggested that one man had attacked unsuspecting pedestrians 300 times.
“We’re trying to determine whether or not this is a real phenomenon,” New York City Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly said on Friday. “I mean, yes, something like this can happen. But we would like to have people come forward and give us any information they have.”
Given the extent to which such racialized attacks fit into broader societal stereotypes about young black men, police are treading carefully.
Moreover, fears of black mob violence against whites dovetails into broader political sentiments simmering in the US, where concerns are rising in some quarters about officials and media turning a blind eye to such attacks in order to not stir up racial trouble.
Moreover, the killing of Trayvon Martin and the acquittal of his shooter, George Zimmerman, resulted in a drawn-out debate over racial stereotypes, especially those involving young black men.
“There’s an element to who wants to see this through the lens of race,” Jeffrey Butts, a criminologist at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in Manhattan, told the New York Times. He added that the appearance of black knockout game players triggers “racial alarms.”
Nevertheless, the new hate crime charges in the Brooklyn attack may be a turning point for police and prosecutors.
In the Brooklyn case, a 24-year-old Jewish man told police he overheard a group of black men talking about the knockout game before he was attacked. Police subsequently charged a man named Marajh Amrit with two counts of a hate crime and third degree assault. Police had first said the attackers were part of an inebriated birthday festivity.
Given that several of the victims in the New York attacks have been Jewish, the city’s Hate Crime Task Force is looking at filing more hate crime charges – if they can bring the perpetrators to justice.
The Brooklyn, N.Y., man accused of assaulting an Orthodox Jew in what appears to be another case of the knockout game is being charged with a hate crime for the alleged attack.
Amrit Marajh, 28, was charged with harassment as a hate crime after he allegedly punched the 24-year-old Orthodox Jewish man Friday morning.
The unidentified victim believes he was attacked as part of the deadly "knockout" game, where an attacker aims to knock out the victim with a single sucker punch, police said.
The violent game has been linked to assault reports in at least six states, and three people have been killed in suspected knockout attacks.
The unidentified Brooklyn victim said he was walking home early Friday morning in the Borough Park section of Brooklyn when he was assaulted and heard his alleged attackers daring each other to punch him out minutes before one actually assaulted him, according to police.
He said there was no question that the game was the motive for the attack, New York Police Department Commissioner Ray Kelly said.
"He makes a statement that he was punched in the side of the face," Kelly said. "He also makes a statement that just prior to it they were talking about the 'Knockout Game'."
New York City police arrested four men Friday in connection with the alleged sucker-punching. Only Marajh was charged, however, and the other three were released.
Teens in Beating Case Tried as Adults
In response to at least eight attacks in the past few weeks, police have stepped up patrols in several Brooklyn neighborhoods where many Jewish people, the latest New York victim among them, have been the targeted.
Two weeks ago, a 78-year-old Jewish woman in Brooklyn was punched in the face by teens while walking down her street, prompting an investigation by the NYPD Hate Crimes Taskforce and leading a New York lawmaker to call for harsher penalties for so-called knockout game players.
The woman's daughter, who wanted to remain anonymous, told "Good Morning America" that she found the violence senseless.
"Someone wanted to inflict pain onto someone else," the woman said. "No other purpose."
Republican state Assemblyman Jim Tedisco has proposed a bill that would classify the knockout game attacks as gang assaults, and would require that youths who participate in such attacks be tried as adults, facing prison terms of up to 25 years.
"These twisted and cowardly thugs are preying on innocent bystanders and they don't care if the victims are young, old, a man or woman," Tedisco told The Associated Press when he announced the bill. "Life isn't a video game. These are real people whose lives are not only being put in jeopardy but in many cases destroyed."
In response to the latest attack in Brooklyn, New York City Councilman David Greenfield told ABC station WABC-TV in New York that officials should send a message of "zero tolerance."
"That's why I called on the NYPD and District Attorney's Office to literally throw the book at these individuals and to charge them with many crimes, including hate crimes and gang assault, because that's what it is," Greenfield said.
In spite of increased police crackdowns on the alleged perpetrators, the dangerous game appears to be spreading further throughout the country.
One unidentified Denver man told ABC News affiliate KMGH-TV in Denver that he was sucker-punched when leaving a bar, which would make him one of the first people in that city to be a victim of the "knockout" game.
In Washington, two people were randomly punched in separate incidents but suffered only minor injuries and did not lose consciousness, while two similar assaults in Philadelphia also have police on alert.
In September, Ralph Santiago, 46, of Hoboken, N.J., died from injuries resulting from a suspected knockout attack that sent him careering backward into a fence, where his head got lodged. Three teens -- two 13-year-olds and a 14-year-old -- have been charged with murder.
In late May, two teenagers admitted to fatally beating and killing a man in Syracuse, N.Y. They admitted that the attack began with the intention of knocking out the victim, Michael Daniels, with a single blow. Both teens, 16 and 13, were sentenced to 18 months in jail.
And earlier in May, Elex Murphy, now 20, was sentenced to life in prison plus 25 years in St. Louis for killing a Vietnamese immigrant as part the game in 2011.
Surveillance footage has also gone viral of another attack from 2012, in which a 50-year-old Pittsburgh, Pa., English teacher named James Addlespurger is struck and falls limply to the curb.
Experts say the violent acts appear to be driven in part by a pack mentality and peer pressure put on the perpetrators.
"These kids have effectively de-humanized others," Former FBI special agent Brad Garrett told ABC News. "They are being drastically influenced by the groups to commit the acts."
The attacks look brutal and vicious. It's a wonder more people haven't died.
Where's Reverand Al and Jesse Jackson? Where's the outrage...oh wait....:wink:
This has been going on for well over a year.
Is it racially motivated? Yes. No doubt about it.
The psychos who do this also call it 'Polar Bear Hunting'
But our cowardly leaders don't want to touch it with a 10' pole because it doesn't fit into their PC agenda. Same reason no one is addressing the "flash-robs" which have also been going on for several years and are becoming increasingly violent if the store-owners or workers try to interfere with the robbery. Every single video I've seen has been exclusively of black teens/young adults.
Easy there, Flo! No stereotyping.
If this was the other way around, white kids attacking black people, do you think it would be getting more media attention?
The president and people like Jackson and Sharpton are doing the black community a real disservice by ignoring these racially-fueled attacks (they all certainly had lots to say about the Zimmerman-Martin case). But that particular dialogue doesn't fit in with the race grievance industry. It is the elephant in the room, everybody knows what is going on.
Having role models at least address the problem would be a step in the right direction although I don't know how much it would help. At the heart of these awful attacks is the breakdown of the family. Yes, popular culture & pack mentality fuels the problem but with no direction, discipline - no parenting - at home, this is the result, IMO.
You had video, visual evidence, of that school bus beatdown of that white kid by those three black kids with barely any coverage from the same media that blanketed the Trayvon Martin case. They have video of people actually getting knocked out also, but I haven't heard the President comment on this, I haven't heard Oprah in light of her recent interview overseas. I read where Sharpton made a few comments at a meeting of one of his groups but nothing that compares to his actions in the Martin case and other cases, Jackson either. As usual when the victim profile doesn't fit their agenda, the silence is deafening and speaks for itself.
these kids are useless ... need to get their asses beatdown for this crap!
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