A bizarre game has been winning popularity with gangs of young people in the past couple of months. As the gang walks past someone on the sidewalk, they suddenly and viciously hit the innocent person in the head as hard as they can for no other reason but to see if they can knock them out with a single punch.
At least three people have been killed as a result of being hit in the head and others have been severely injured. From most of the reports I’ve seen, it seemed that mostly gangs of black teens were the only ones participating in this vicious game, but that is not the case. It seems to be a growing trend of groups of other ethnic backgrounds and ages including 20s and 30s.
Last Friday, an unidentified Orthodox Jewish man in Brooklyn became one of the latest victims of knockout attackers. The 24 year old victim said that he overheard the group of men talking about the knockout game as he passed them on the street. The gang of men in their 20s and 30s began daring each other to hit him and then one of them suddenly hit him in the side of the head.
New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly spoke about the attack, saying:
“He makes a statement that he was punched in the side of the face. He also makes a statement that just prior to it they were talking about the ‘Knockout Game’.”
Later on Friday, NYPD arrested four men in connection with the knockout attack. One of the four was identified as the actual attacker. He was 28 year old Amrit Marajh who was then charged with a hate crime that carries a significantly longer sentence if found guilty. The other three men were released with no charges, which I believe is wrong. They should have been charged with conspiracy to commit a hate crime or even complicity to the commission of a hate crime.
According to the NYPD, this was the 8th knockout attack in the past few weeks with most of them occurring in the Brooklyn area and targeting Jewish people. Two weeks ago, a 78 year old Jewish woman was hit in the face in a knockout attack. Her daughter, who wishes to remain anonymous for fear of reprisals, told Good Morning America:
“Someone wanted to inflict pain onto someone else. No other purpose.”
The NYPD Hate Crimes Taskforce has launched an investigation into the growing trend of the knockout game to determine if Jews are intentionally being targeted.
Jim Tedisco (R), a New York State Assemblyman, has introduced a bill into the state legislature that would classify the knockout game as gang assaults and that teens involved in the knockout game will be tried as adults and could face up to 25 years in prison. In an interview, Tedisco said:
“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. Life isn’t a video game. These are real people whose lives are not only being put in jeopardy but in many cases destroyed.”
David Greenfield, a New York City Councilman believes the police and courts should have zero tolerance for participants in the knockout game. Greenfield commented:
“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.”
The travesty is that not all police departments and courts have taken the seriousness of these attacks to heart when convicting young attackers.
Back in May, 16 and 13 year old boys attacked and killed Michael Daniels in Syracuse. They admitted that the attack started out with the knockout game, but they continued to beat Daniels to death. Their sentence was only 18 months in jail for physically beating a man to death.
I have no compassion for these teens and you know that even the 13 year old knew what he was doing was wrong. Too often, young teens don’t worry about the consequences of their actions because they know it only means a short time in juvenile detention and then they are free to go out and commit more crimes. I believe the sentencing for such wilful acts, including for teens as young 13 should be much harsher and last much longer. Once they turn the age to be released from juvy, instead of setting them free, they should be transferred to prison to serve out the remainder of their sentence. Michael Daniels life ended. He wasn’t given an option. Those teens should be spending the rest of their lives in prison without parole. If this starts to happen, perhaps some teens will think twice about committing these senseless violent crimes and perhaps an innocent person will avoid being attacked and killed. But as long as they only receive a slap on the wrist, they’ll most likely continue on with the violence and more people like Michael Daniels will have their lives cut short.