Recent reports of the so-called “Knockout Game” has spread through major media outlets and onto social media, with many claiming roving packs of black youth are assaulting strangers. Now, it appears that many of the reports of the menacing practice may just be sensationalized reporting and not true facts.
The New York Times did an investigative piece on the Knockout Game, focusing on a recent story from Brooklyn Assemblyman Dov Hikind alleging that black youth targeted Jews as part of a growing trend of hate crimes. But NYPD commissioner Ray Kelly is taking a cautious approach to the alleged trend.
“We're trying to determine whether or not this is a real phenomenon,” Kelly said 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.”
Last Friday in Brooklyn, a 24-year-old man was approached by four men and punched by one of them. Kelly says the victim allegedly heard one of them say something about knocking him out, thus causing a stir. The men were later found, with the man who threw the punch, Amrit Marajh, 28, charged with assault and aggravated harassment as a hate crime.
As noted in the Times report, police don't necessarily see evidence of Knockout as an organized activity, but hasn't ruled out that there could be a link. The elephant in the room in the case of the game has been race, and an expert spoke to that.
“There's an element to who wants to see this through the lens of race,” Jeffrey Butts, director of the Research and Evaluation Center at John Jay College of Criminal Justice said. “The kids in Jersey probably set off racial alarms.”
The cast Butts is speaking of happened in Hoboken where three New Jersey teens assaulted a man who later died after his head was wedged between a fence. But officials there claim it was just a random attack painted as part of the vicious game.
“If there ever was an urban myth, this was it,” Bob McHugh, a spokesperson for Jersey City Police. “There have been no reported instances of this type of assault.”
On the other side of the debate, Syracuse police claim the game is a real thing and are treating it as such after two recent fatal incidents.
“I think it's very real,” Sgt. Tom Connellan said. “As opposed to a motive for assault, be it anger or robbery, this is strictly for a game.”
Do you think the Knockout Game is a real thing or just an urban myth? Let us know in the comments. Watch a recent video report of the spread of the trend below.