The hashtag '#knockoutgame' tells the story.
Social media is buzzing with fear and hysteria and the spread of anti-black sentiment. The proxy war for a host of racial agendas has a new rallying call. It is "the knockout game."
For those who followed the so called "Central Park Jogger" case, an incident in April of 1989 when one Hispanic and four black teens from Harlem were said to be "wilding," this 'knockout game' development is very troubling.
Not only were the teens falsely accused, convicted and served their full sentences in prison before the actual rapist came forward, but there was an air of hysteria that every black man walking the city felt, sometimes overtly, sometimes subtly. Black men walking in groups were branded as "wolf packs" and you could hear car door locks clicking and startled looks on the faces of white motorists whenever a black kid walked near their vehicle.
New York City police officials are struggling to determine whether they should advise the public to take precautions against the "knockout game" – whether in fact it is a growing dangerous trend, or something that has been ongoing and just recently rose to the surface.
"We're trying to determine whether or not this is a real phenomenon," Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly said on Friday at a press availably. "I mean, yes, something like this can happen. But we would like to have people come forward and give us any information they have."
Jewish communities in the Brooklyn neighborhoods of Crown Heights, Borough Park and Midwood are alarmed following an attack on a 24-year-old Jewish man and the arrest of four men who Kelly told the press was "talking about 'knockout' just before the attack." Three of the men were later released. The person still in custody is being charged with a hate crime.
According to reports, two weeks ago, a 78-year-old Brooklyn woman said she was punched in the head. Her assailant reportedly fled without attempting to rob her. The indicator of "knockout" is that the assailant is not interested in property theft, as though that is something in which to take solace.
Another reported attack, this one on a 19-year-old Hasidic man, involved eight men who surrounded him while one punched him in the face. This too, according to NYPD, is being handled as a hate crime.
Across the river in Hoboken, N.J., a reported random assault in September involved a man who was attacked by three youths and died after his head became wedged in a fence between pickets.
Police Chief Anthony P. Falco Sr. of Hoboken was reluctant to link the incident to "the knockout game" saying the attack appeared to have been isolated. Gene Rubino, a spokesman and assistant prosecutor in the Hudson County prosecutor's office agreed. "We keep getting asked that question," he said, of "the knockout game," "and there is no noticeable trend."
The New York Times spoke to Jeffrey Butts, director of the Research and Evaluation Center at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in Manhattan, who said racial fear is very much at the root of this "knockout game" phenomenon.
"There's an element to who wants to see this through the lens of race," he said. "The kids in Jersey probably set off racial alarms."
There are videos from cities around the country purportedly showing people being punched and beaten at random. Massachusetts, Missouri, Illinois and Washington, D.C. have reported suspected "knockout game" attacks.
This week Fox News 's Greta Van Susteren posted a commentary saying, "I beg of Reverend Jesse Jackson, Reverend Al Sharpton and even President Obama to step up right now and speak out. Your silence will speak volumes, but your voice could make a big difference. Don't wait. Be leaders; they need you. We need you."
On Saturday morning, the National Action Network's Rev. Al Sharpton addressed the issue of this so called "knockout game" head on. In an address aired live on WLIB radio and streamed over the Internet, Sharpton denounced "knockout" as disturbing and despicable.
He said, "This type of behavior is deplorable and must be condemned by all of us." The Reverend went on to say, "If someone talked about knocking out blacks, we would not be silent, if it is bigotry, violence or assault, we must denounce it."
The Reverend called upon the black church, black newspapers and publications, community oriented radio broadcasts to start a campaign against "knockout." Sharpton is the host of "Politics Nation" on MSNBC. In a plea to black families he said, "Parents need to talk to their kids."
Knowing the power of peer support and celebrity influence, Sharpton called upon the entertainment community to get involved by denouncing this behavior.
"This type of behavior leads to the demise of everybody. We simply cannot have this kind of hysteria and we need to put it in check!" He closed his remarks by saying, "Everybody of influence should get in on it because it is wrong."
(Follow Will Wright on Twitter @willjwright.)