Assemblyman says ‘This is a national issue’
By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Assemblyman Dov Hikind is making a federal case out of the dangerous “Knockout” game played by street toughs.
Hikind, who lives down the street from the site of one of the attacks, is asking President Barack Obama and US Attorney General Eric Holder to address the life-threatening epidemic of “Knockout.”
“It’s getting worse in my community and our neighboring communities, and it’s apparently spreading to many cities,” Hikind said. “People have died. There’s fear in communities. Some people are afraid to leave their homes,” he said.
The “game” consists of groups of young thugs who are walking up to strangers on the streets and punching them in the head, in many cases knocking them unconscious, for no apparent reason other than for laughs.
There have been nearly a dozen incidents in New York City, including eight in Crown Heights. The most recent attack took place in Midwood on Friday. Police said the woman was walking past Friends Field on East Fifth Street and Avenue L when she was approached by an African-American male approximately 20 years old. The man said nothing, hit her in the head, and fled.
Hikind said it’s happening in other cities, too.
Many of the victims have been Jewish, police said.
“This is a national issue. People have died in New York, New Jersey, Minnesota and Missouri. Others have been badly injured and suffered psychological damage. And it’s spreading.” Hikind said.
"The national media are reporting this sick ‘Knockout’ epidemic, so clearly it is well known. I respectfully ask that the President and Attorney General get involved publicly,” the assemblyman said.
Hikind said the latest incident hit close to home for him, literally. The lawmaker lives on the same block where a young knocked down a 78-year-old woman. The woman was reluctant at first to file a police report.
“I had to convince her that the more incidents reported, the better the chances were of the police making arrests,” Hikind said. “We have been receiving regular reports from Crown Heights of men, women and children being assaulted for no reason. There’s no robbery, just a brutal, potentially life-threatening blow to the head. Who doesn’t realize how dangerous this is?” he said.
In response to the alarming series of attacks, two lawmakers and a councilman-elect have joined together to offer a $1,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of suspects in connection to attacks in Brooklyn.
Councilwoman Letitia James (D-Fort Greene-Clinton Hill), who is the public advocate-elect, Councilman David Greenfield (D-Midwood-Borough Park-Bensonhurst), and Councilman-elect Chaim Deutsch (D-Sheepshead Bay) jointly made the reward offer.
The reward is being offered to encourage people to come forward with information, the lawmakers said.
“We have zero tolerance for hate crimes, and these ‘knockout’ attacks in Crown Heights are no exception,” James said.