A man has been charged with a hate crime possibly in connection with the "knockout" attacks that have been reported in Brooklyn neighborhoods recently. The charges come one day after he and three others were taken into custody on suspicion of carrying out an unprovoked attack against a Jewish man in Borough Park.
Last night, Kensington resident Amrit Marajh, 28, was charged with aggravated harassment in the second degree as a hate crime, third-degree assault, and third-degree assault as a hate crime for the alleged attack on a 24-year-old Jewish man. The victim, who was wearing a yarmulke while walking home from work early Friday morning, told cops he heard one of his four assailants referring to the "knockout" game, saying, “Yeah, I can do it! Look, I’ll do it to this guy," before punching him in the face. The victim identified Marajh and the three other suspects. The four were arrested yesterday, but only Marajh was charged.
There's been speculation of late as to whether or not these assaults are all connected to the so-called "knockout" game, in which the "players" pick out random unsuspecting individuals and try to knock them down with one punch. In New York, at least nine other Jews in Crown Heights, Borough Park and Midwood have come forward to claim they were victims of the game, including one 78-year-old Midwood woman who was punched in the face earlier this month. According to WCBS 2, the game has another name: "The alternate name “polar bearing” comes from the fact that the victims are white."
"We're trying to determine whether this is a real phenomenon," NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly said at a press conference yesterday afternoon. "Yes, something like this can happen, but we would like to have people come forward and give us any information they have." Kelly had confirmed four suspects had been taken into custody, but did not confirm they were involved in a "knockout" game. "They haven’t been charged. We’re still speaking to the individuals, so it would be premature to characterize that event at this time." He added, "We ask anyone that this has happened to to please come forward and let us know. I think the complaint we got two days ago, the incident that happened on Nov. 9th and it wasn't reported until the 19th."
The Rev. Al Sharpton says if the "knockout" game is real, it must be stopped. "If someone was running around talking about knocking out blacks, we would not be silent,” Sharpton said today. “We cannot be silent.”