A Brooklyn, N.Y., man has been charged with a hate crime that's suspected of being connected with the so-called knockout game -- which involves sucker-punching random strangers with the goal of knocking them out with a single punch.
According to Gothamist, police arrested four men in Brooklyn Friday on suspicion of carrying out a “knockout game” attack. Amrit Marajh, 28, of Brooklyn has been charged with aggravated harassment in the second degree as a hate crime, third-degree assault, and third-degree assault as a hate crime for attacking a 24-year-old Jewish man in Borough Park.
The victim reportedly told police that he heard one of the four alleged assailants mention the “knockout game” and say “Yeah, I can do it! Look, I’ll do it to this guy,” before punching him in the face, Gothamist said. Marajh and three other people were arrested after being identified by the victim, but only Marajh has been charged.
This isn’t the first reported instance of the “knockout game” in Brooklyn. According to Gothamist, at least eight people in Crown Heights, Borough Park and Midwood -- all neighborhoods with Jewish populations -- have come forward saying they were victims of a sucker-punch.
"We're trying to determine whether this is a real phenomenon," NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly said at a press conference Friday. "Yes, something like this can happen, but we would like to have people come forward and give us any information they have."
As Gothamist points out, Kelly said it was too early to say if this latest case is an example of the “knockout game” that has reportedly spread across the country. “We’re still speaking to the individuals, so it would be premature to characterize that event at this time," he said. “We ask anyone that this has happened to to please come forward and let us know. I think the complaint we got two days ago, the incident that happened on Nov. 9 and it wasn't reported until the 19th."
The Rev. Al Sharpton spoke out against the recent “knockout game” attacks on Saturday. “If someone was running around talking about knocking out blacks, we would not be silent,” said the longtime activist and MSNBC host, according to CBS New York. “We cannot be silent.”
Sharpton also said he might film public service announcements with celebrities to condemn the attacks, CBS New York said.
As USA Today points out, recent “knockout game” attacks are believed to have occurred in New York, New Jersey, New Haven, Conn., Washington, D.C., suburban Philadelphia and St. Louis.
Will Marling, executive director of the National Organization for Victim Assistance, told USA Today that the “knockout game” could be the start of a growing trend, due to the fact that video of the act could go viral. "As experience shows, other kids will see this is an easy thing to do and then it becomes groupthink," he said.
As previously reported, Thomas Sowell, a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, penned an op-ed for the New York Post, in which he claims that "knockout game" victims are Jews, “whites in general or people of Asian ancestry.” In Illinois, Sowell claims, the violent game is also known as “polar-bear hunting.” In Milwaukee, one of the attackers was heard saying "White girl bleed a lot.”
"I think the fact that this has been labeled a game is sickening," New Haven police spokesman David Hartman said. "This is not a game. This is violent."