Hate crime charges against a black Brooklyn man for assaulting a white man could raise the stakes over what to do about the so-called “knockout game,” where primarily young black men surprise white victims with a rain of punches – sometimes for a $5 bet, reports the Christian Science Monitor. The apparent object of the game is to pick an unsuspecting victim and knock them out with a punch. The perpetrators are often described as ethically challenged teenagers, but the potential racial element has begun to be noticed more broadly by community leaders in places like Brooklyn.
Some experts insist the game is a “myth” that attempts to correlate unrelated attacks into a pattern with racial overtones. Parents of teens have referred to the attacks as “pranks” that spiral out of control. Police have also been reluctant to make too big of a deal about the attacks, concerned about creating the atmosphere for copy cat crimes. Some media organizations have compiled dozens of examples of the game in recent years, and a St. Louis judge suggested that one man had attacked unsuspecting pedestrians 300 times. “We're trying to determine whether or not this is a real phenomenon,” said New York City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly.