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Kelly: Hate Crimes Unit Investigating Some Recent ‘Knockout’ Incidents

City School Officials Urge Police To Address Students About 'Game'

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – A new plan has been launched to crack down on a dangerous game called “knockout,” which has been caught on camera in New York and other cities.

As CBS 2’s John Slattery reported, the “game” has been picking up steam in particular in Brooklyn. There have been seven so-called “knockout” or “polar bear” assaults in the Crown Heights and Midwood sections of Brooklyn since October, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said Wednesday.

The attacks have been caught on camera. People simply walk by and are sucker-punched by the offenders for no apparent reason.

The NYPD and local educators said the solution may be taking the videos straight to the students. Speaking in the Bronx on Wednesday, city Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott said the game must stop.

“It’s something that’s despicable and should never be tolerated,” Walcott said. “But again, I want to be clear, it’s not happening in our schools.”

While the sucker-punch attacks happen away from schools, Walcott is open to police wanting to address students and show videos, especially in Crown Heights schools.

“Any way we can enhance students’ respect of each other and make sure it carries outside of school buildings, I’m all for that,” Walcott said.

Kelly said the “knockout game” attacks are not a new phenomenon.

“We’ve seen this in the past. I would like to urge anyone who has been victimized by this to come forward and let us know,” said the police commissioner. “In order for us to respond, we have to have this information.”

The alternate name “polar bearing” comes from the fact that the victims are white. The latest victim was a 78-year-old woman whose daughter spoke to CBS 2’s Dave Carlin Tuesday night.

“There was not even an attempt to take anything from her,” the daughter said. “It was just a wanton act to hurt another human being.”

A string of attacks on religious Jews were also reported in Crown Heights in recent weeks.

Kelly said several victims have not reported the incidents because no robbery is involved. Police patrols have been stepped up in central Brooklyn in response to the incidents.

In Paterson, N.J., police have been looking into an attack on a Bengali student to see if it was part of the knockout trend.

“Some black boy hit him in the face,” said a girl who knows the victim.

Back in September, 46-year-old Ralph Santiago of Hoboken, N.J., was killed after his head was slammed into an iron fence. The three arrested, who police said were captured on video, were just 13 and 14 years old.

Many students on Wednesday said they were aware of the phenomenon.

“Well, just hit a guy and if he gets knocked out, knockout,” one student said.

Kelly agreed that taking a message to the schools may help.

“We have to identify to a certain extent the scope of the problem but we’d ask the Department of Education to help in this regard as well, if in fact that’s the issue,” Kelly said.

Videos posted online have shown “knockout” incidents from Washington, D.C. to Pittsburgh to London.

The question is whether those responsible can be talked out of pulling such stunts, and whether talking to students and showing videos might prompt others to join in.

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