Sucker punching someone on the streets with the goal of knocking out the victim while a friend videos the assault so that you can achieve YouTube notoriety is the trendy crime of the moment known as the “Knockout Game.” Sometimes it is simply known as “Knockout the Jew” or a “Polar Bear Attack” because the victims are predominantly either Jewish or just Caucasian.
The attacks have been taking place sporadically over the past several years, in cities such as Philadelphia, Syracuse and Washington, D.C. Three people have died as the result of these attacks.
But in New York City, the numbers of reported attacks has been increasing dramatically recently, with at least seven taking place since October.
In a disproportionate number of those attacks in New York City the victims have been Jewish. Those victims have included a 12 year old boy and a 78 year old woman. The attacks have taken place in areas of the City with the largest concentrations of Orthodox Jews, such as Borough Park or the Midwood and Crown Heights sections of Brooklyn.
Some people, including several Jewish City Council members, are calling for increased penalties for people found guilty of perpetrating the crime. The Rev. Al Sharpton spoke out against the violent trend on Saturday.
“If someone was running around talking about knocking out blacks, we would not be silent,” Sharpton said. “We cannot be silent,” CBS reported.
The New York City Hate Crimes Task Force is involved in investigating the phenomenon.
The attacks have pitted those who believe the matter needs to be downplayed or it will only result in increased “copycat” attacks, and others who are incensed that the attacks are being trivialized as a mere “game” and not a serious crime that has led to entire neighborhoods living in fear.
FRIDAY, NOV. 22 ATTACK
One attack which took place this past Friday, Nov. 22, is important for several reasons.
First, the victim, a 24 year old Orthodox Jewish man, was able to recover quickly from the attack. Second, the alleged perpetrators were quickly apprehended, and third, the individual identified by the victim as the aggressor was charged by the police on Saturday with assault as a hate crime and aggravated harassment, according to CBS local news in New York.
However, the District Attorney’s office apparently charged the individual arrested, 28 year old Amrit Marajh of Brooklyn, with misdemeanor assault, harassment and menacing charges. Marajh was released on $750 bail later the same day. “I didn’t knock out no Jew!” Marajh yelled as he was escorted from the 66th Precinct in Brooklyn following questioning, a website covering New York City criminal information reported.
The victim was walking down 18th Avenue in Borough Park, very early in the morning after leaving work. He was surrounded by four men and punched in the face. The victim was wearing a kippah.
NYPD officers were nearby in an unmarked police car, commissioner Ray Kelly said Friday afternoon, which is how they were able to apprehend the alleged perpetrators so quickly.
One possible reason given for the seemingly sudden upsurge in the number of attacks is that initially victims were not reporting the attacks as the perpetrators did not steal anything, making it even less likely that they could be apprehended.
New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly has asked anyone who has been victimized by this crime to come forward and report it.
The video is of the 24 year old victim who identified Amrit Marajh as his attacker.
Lori Lowenthal Marcus
About the Author: Lori Lowenthal Marcus is the U.S. correspondent for The Jewish Press. A graduate of Harvard Law School, she previously practiced First Amendment law and taught in Philadelphia-area graduate and law schools. You can reach her by email: Lori@JewishPressOnline.com
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