It’s called “The Knockout Game.”  They began in Brooklyn, New York with assaults on Jews.  A roving band of teens pick out a random target, and one of the teens will, without warning, provocation, or exchanging words, attempt to knock his victim unconscious in one punch.  Victims aren’t robbed.  Money isn’t the goal.  Glory is found in the perceived “fun” of the moment, or when a video of the incident goes viral.

And that is how “The Knockout Game” probably found its way to Houston.

“It’s an issue here.  We had it on the trail,” the Reverend Dr. Robert Gilmore Sr. tells KTRH News.  “It’s a similar type of incident where someone innocently knocks you out.  Over the summer [police] arrested ten teenagers, the youngest one was ten years old, and when the bicyclist would ride by them they basically would hit them with a brick. It was the same thought process as ‘The Knockout Game’.”

Reverend Gilmore is referring to a series of sometimes vicious robberies and assaults committed by nine juveniles on 20 bicycle riders on the Cumberland Trap Trail.  Bricks and rocks were used in the attacks.  On occasion guns were used to terrify their victims.  Though they did rob their victims, police said the boys seemed to be engaging in the behavior out of a sick sense of having fun.

Friday, November 22, a 26-year-old man attacked a 24-year-old orthodox Jew; New York Police Chief Ray Kelly said there was no question it was “The Knockout Game.”  The perpetrator was charged with a hate crime.

Since they first began, incidents following the MO of “The Knockout Game” have spread to six states with three fatalities. 

“Some of those incidents have been exacerbated by social media.  We’ve had three teenagers in the last two weeks or so get killed, because of that same influence of social media and behavior,” Reverend Gilmore continues.  “We try to work with our leadership: Youth Ministers against Crime, the Houston Police Department, and the Harris County Sheriff’s Office, and other organizations that might have leaders who might have influence over parents, and those who might have a sphere of influence over young people, so that those leaders understand that these are new norms for young people.  Many of us who are older might not even be aware of what teens are doing with this new tool of social media.”

Reverend Gilmore says he will continue working with civic leaders to try to stamp out these senseless acts of violence.  There is no alternative.