The New York Criminal Law Blog

The Knockout Game: Fact or Fiction?

Is the Knockout Game real? After several reports of various attacks possibly being a part of an organized "game" online where teenagers randomly assaulted innocent victims, New York police officials still remain somewhat skeptical, The New York Times reports. However, they are also hesitant to rule out the possibility.

"The Knockout Game" is a theory that young assailants, singling out specific racial groups or minorities like those in Jewish community and women, are randomly targeting those victims in the street and then attempting to knock them out with just one punch.

Is this a real phenomenon or are the reported attacks all unrelated?

Believers and Skeptics

Here's an example of an alleged "knockout" attack -- a 28-year-old Brooklyn man was recently charged with a hate crime for allegedly assaulting an Orthodox Jew. The victim, however, believes that this attack was part of the supposed "knockout" game, ABC News reports, claiming that he heard his alleged attackers daring each other to punch him shortly before the attack.

So far, according to ABC News, this supposed game is linked to various other assault reports, in at least six states.

However, there are skeptics who believe that these are merely random assaults, which (unfortunately) happen all the time, racially motivated or not. Many see this as simple media panic -- a combination of focusing only anecdotally on the news coverage of these attacks and wanting to find that similar thread of "knockout" commonality among them, The Daily Beast reports.

The Crime is Still Real

Regardless of whether the phenomenon of the Knockout Game is actually occurring, the assaults themselves are still being reported. This should serve as a reminder that not only are hate crimes illegal, but they remain a looming concern in this country.

Hate crime is an umbrella term which encompasses crimes involving force or threats that are motivated by animosity toward a victim's race, gender, religion, disability, or sexual orientation. Usually, those who are convicted of the underlying crime, whether it be an assault or battery, may face steeper penalties for having committed the offense based on discriminatory animosity.

Police and prosecutors will still enforce hate crime laws in cases of racially motivated assaults, regardless of the crime's ties to "the Knockout Game."

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