A series of seemingly random assaults in Brooklyn have officials concerned that a violent trend seen in other cities may have made its way to New York City.
Officials are saying a "street game" called "Knockout," which involves an attacker punching a victim in the head without warning and knocking them unconscious.
Attacks seeming to fit that description have been caught on video in various cities, including Pittsburgh, Hoboken, and St. Louis.
Assemblyman Dov Hikind, notorious for wearing blackface to a Purim part this year, has gone on television to condemn the attacks and is, according to his office, "working with other officials to make sure that this matter is given the maximum attention given the dangers involved."
The latest victim was a 78-year-old woman in his district of Midwood, officials said. She was apparently carrying a purse and shopping bags, none of which were taken.
On Wednesday, community leaders, elected officials and members of the NYPD, including personnel from Crown Heights' 71st precinct, met to discuss a spate of attacks in that neighborhood, some of which appeared to be targeting Jewish residents. The Councilmember for that district, Letitia James, thanked the 71st precinct for increasing foot patrol in the neighborhood.
Some of the Crown Heights incidents are assaults, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly noted, and some are harassment. The Hate Crimes Task Force is investigating some, but not all of them, based on statements made during the attacks and other indicators.
Kelly urged all community members — victims and witnesses alike — to come forward with any information. He noted that one incident, the attack of a 12-year-old boy on Nov. 9, went unreported for ten days, with police only learning of it on Tuesday.
The NYPD is also apparently working with the Department of Education to try to address this issue in city schools, in case the attacks are in fact motivated by this "knockout" street game.
While the NYPD has not yet determined if these incidents are part of the national "knockout" crazy, a Council staffer noted that the fact that at least two of the victims were reportedly carrying valuables and were not robbed has officials concerned that the attacks may be part of this "game."
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