Have you heard of the “Knockout” game lately happening in Brooklyn and Hoboken and Syracuse and St. Louis?
If you’re Jewish, or old and feeble — or female! — prepare yourself for a face-meeting-sidewalk event you’ll never forget, if you live to tell about it, as young strangers on the street punch you in the face without warning.
This horrible street game is called “Knockout” because the whole idea behind the crime is to see if you can be knocked unconscious, and left “lights out” on the pavement, with a single punch to the face.
The “knockout game” that outraged the Syracuse area earlier this year when two teenagers playing it attacked and killed Michael Daniels on West Brighton Avenue is getting renewed attention as reports spread about Jews being targeted in Brooklyn and the death of a homeless man in Hoboken, N.J.
The New York Police Department’s Hate Crimes Unit is investigating reports that a group of men is playing “Knock Out the Jew” in Brooklyn. A 64-year-old man told CBS New York in a report posted Tuesday that he and his 12-year-old son were attacked. Video in the report also shows a 19-year-old Jewish man being sucker punched.
This is how young people today choose to behave in the public square:
The latest attack, on an elderly woman in Midwood, comes after eight similar attacks on Jewish people in Crown Heights.
Now, that 78-year-old woman is terrified, her daughter told Eyewitness News.
“She was carrying a purse that was in full view and many bags, nothing was taken,” the victim’s daughter, Rita, said. “This was purely a wanton incident, someone wanted to inflict pain onto someone else, no other purpose.”
Knockout has found footing in many big cities:
To be sure, these “knockout” attacks aren’t new, and they’re not just happening in NYC: various people in DC told DCist they have been victims of the game in recent weeks. A 20-year-old man was sentenced to 55 years in prison for killing an elderly man with a single punch in St. Louis, and a 51-year-old man was killed in Syracuse, N.Y. allegedly by two teenagers participating in the game. There have also been reports of attacks in Massachusetts, Wisconsin, London and other cities.
It’s still unclear whether there is any racial or religious motivation behind the attacks, but all eight attacks that have been reported in NYC thus far have been against Jews. Attacking people for fun has long been a popular pastime among our nation’s poorly supervised teens, and considering how far the game has spread, it seems likely that this is just the latest incarnation of vile teens-being-vile teens.
How do these games begin? As dares? Taunts? Threats? Gang initiations? Whatever the reason, the cause is sad and shocking by a magnitude of human suffering.
I learned a valuable lesson as a 12-year-old Freshman in Junior High School. I was late for gym class and I was running down the hallway. As I jumped down a series of descending steps, an arm appeared on my left side. The entire arm swung to clothesline me. My mouth and nose slammed into that arm and I tumbled down the stairs, dizzy and confused. I heard someone say behind me, “Don’t run in the hall” followed by a tittering laughter.
I quickly picked myself up from the ground, did not look back, and continued running in the hallway to my gym class. I wasn’t going to show an instant of weakness or vulnerability. I knew I had to get up and pretend nothing happened even though my whole face was aching. It took about 10 minutes for me to get my head straight again, and then the fury began to boil as I started to comprehend someone I did know had purposefully tried to knock me out with a single clothesline punch! I wanted blood back!
The lesson I learned that day was not to never run in the hallway — our Junior High was huge and you had to run to not be late — but rather to never trust anyone passing by you, or behind you, to never not maybe punch you in the face! I think that suspicious caution steeled in childhood has served me well in the big city because, once you’re sucker punched, you’re pretty aware for the rest of your living days to never let it happen to you again — or there will be blood!
A true Knockout punch can only really be effective one time — because without the sucker’s surprise, the punch can usually be mitigated or avoided or muted in some lifesaving way — and that’s what these ugly street thugs reply upon… the good trust of those in their community who could never imagine for a single moment that a stranger would punch them in the face hard enough to kill them for absolutely no reason at all.