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Knockout Crime is No Game

Binyamin Rose

What’s behind the latest spate of assaults on Jews in Brooklyn?

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

 A 12-year-oldCrownHeights yeshivah boy is punched and knocked to the ground by a group of teenagers. The boy’s father later says the assailants yelled with glee: “We got him!”


A 24-year-old Jewish man on his way home from work inBoroParkis similarly floored by thugs in the early hours of Friday morning.


And it’s not like the assailants need the cover of darkness to perpetrate their attacks. Hooligans also whacked a 79-year-oldBrooklynwoman from the Midwood neighborhood with one punch, in broad daylight. The attackers fled without touching her purse or shopping bags.


These are just three of the estimated seven “knockout” attacks, perpetrated mainly on Jews in these threeBrooklynneighborhoods over the past two months. Authorities are investigating these, and other similar violent acts in several cities, including Philadelphia, New Haven, and Washington, D.C, to see if they are part of a growing phenomenon known as the “knockout game,” where perpetrators strike pedestrians, seemingly at random, in an attempt to knock them out with a single punch. The assaults have also been dubbed “polar bear” attacks because, so far, they have been perpetrated exclusively against white victims. At least two of the victims died as a result of their injuries.

New Yorkpolice went into high gear after Friday’sBrooklynincident, arresting 28-year-old Amrit Marajh and charging him with two felony hate crimes. Reuters reports thatNew YorkStateassemblyman Dov Hikind has written to both President Obama andUSattorney general Eric Holder, pushing for federal action. Meantime, fellow assemblyman Jim Tedisco introduced a new bill to label future “knockout games” as gang assaults, enabling authorities to try juvenile perpetrators as adults, and making the offense punishable with up to 25 years in jail.

Following Friday morning’s attack in Brooklyn, David Greenfield, who represents Bensonhurst,BoroPark, and Midwood as city councilman for the 44th District, where at least two of the attacks have occurred, says police told him that the perpetrators, who live in the same neighborhood as the victim, were out late celebrating the main perpetrator’s birthday. “At the end of the celebration, one of them said, ‘Have you heard about knockout attacks?’ and another one said ‘Yes,’ and that’s when they attacked this guy. People unfortunately tend to look for excuses to attack Jews and any excuse is good enough.”

Greenfieldhas maintained ongoing contact with the New York Police Department, from Commissioner Ray Kelly to local precinct commanders, and while it is clear that these knockout incidents are “copycat attacks,” authorities are wary about labeling or linking the attacks for fear of giving them more publicity.

“There is a very delicate balance where to draw the line,” saysGreenfield. He adds, though, that when it comes to public safety, the police might be better off to err on the side of transparency. “You have to get information out to people so they can take the necessary precautions,” he says. “The frequency of the attacks and the fact that they appear to be targeting Orthodox Jews is something we should be concerned about and make the community aware of.”


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