Experts link the rise in violence with a reform in bail and preventive detention
‘Knockout game’ is the name of a sinister game that seems to be all the rage in New York. It consists of randomly knocking out a person on the street with the aim of rendering them unconscious in a single blow. The violent practice was already fashionable in 2013 encouraged by social networks and four recent attacks point to its return. The media have documented so far this year at least twenty incidents of unexpected attacks on subjects who were simply on the street.
A 74-year-old woman has been one of the latest victims. The woman had to be admitted to the hospital, although she is already “well.” She was attacked in broad daylight in midtown. “The attack is real,” underlines Michael Alcazar, retired agent and adjunct professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, in statements to the New York Post, while calling on citizens to remain alert. The Police, however, do not track this type of assault as a specific problem.
The assaults, he details, do not come only from the mentally ill: «There are individuals who are angry, bored and daring because they know they are not going to be prosecuted«. In his opinion, the legal reform implemented in 2020 would be “emboldening” the attackers.
Former New York Police Commissioner William Bratton also links the wave of violence to “criminal law.” The new legislation eliminates cash bail and pretrial detention for nearly all nonviolent charges. “If the person is mentally ill, he goes into observation and lets her out, and if she’s not mentally ill, he lets her out even quicker,” he laments.
The problem is that “there is no consistency of punishment or consistency of treatment for people who engage in this activity.” Bratton extends the incidents beyond the Big Apple and claims that they are occurring across the country.
What worries him most, he says, is “imitation”. “People see it, they see that nothing happens to the people involved and they may be tempted to do it,” she says.
Jesús Cortés, 52, had to fight for his life after being assaulted on August 12 in the Bronx at the hands of an ex-convict sex offender. Miller Giovanni Medina Vargas was punched in the face out of nowhere while “resting” in Central Park. According to his own testimony, he did nothing to provoke the attacker. There was also no incitement from a 36-year-old man who was beaten in the head in Brooklyn on August 20.
He dodged the first blow to the face but then “four fives” more came. Gayman Hillaire, 73, lost his sight in his left eye after being punched in Brooklyn in January 2020. He was walking at night when someone pounced on him, according to testimony collected by the American newspaper.