For the second time in six weeks, New York City police have arrested a man in Brooklyn and charged him with assault as a hate crime in connection with the "knockout game."
The arrest comes as a spate of attacks have focused national attention on the knockout game, in which an assailant tries to knock out an unsuspecting bystander with one punch. The attacks have stirred controversy over whether the game is part of a growing trend or whether national media coverage and social media have inflated isolated incidents.
Moreover, the Obama administration raised eyebrows when the US Justice Department on Dec. 26 charged a white man in Texas with a federal hate crime for attacking a black man as part of a knockout game, though the vast majority of recorded knockout assaults have been by black men against whites.
In the case announced by New York police Friday, Brooklyn resident Barry Baldwin, who is black, was arrested in connection with seven knockout game attacks. The assaults occurred from Nov. 9 to Dec. 27 in predominately Jewish sections of Brooklyn. All the alleged victims were women, including an elderly woman pushing a stroller and a mother walking with her daughter.
The case echoes that of Amrit Marajh, a black man who was arrested on Nov. 23 and also charged with assault as a hate crime. The alleged victim in that case was a young Jewish man.
Both the cases will be turned over to the New York Police Department's Hate Crimes Task Force. The two Brooklyn cases and the case in Texas remain the only knockout game assaults that have brought hate crime charges at either the local or federal level.
Many criminologists dismiss the idea that the knockout game is growing, saying this sort of crime has been common for decades. "At least nine suspected knockout attacks have been reported since October in New York, but police have said they see no evidence of a trend," according to CNN.