Thursday, January 2, 2014

First You Laugh: Rules for the Knockout Game

by Colin Flaherty

They always laugh, these Knockout Game artists. That is why they call it a game. The fun is more important than the violence.

But lots of media reports ignore that.

The latest example of the Knockout Game in Charlottesville, Virginia illustrates  all of the features of this increasingly popular past time. Let’s start with the central organizing feature of the mayhem: 
First, the attackers were black.

Jeanne Doucette and her boyfriend Marc Adams were enjoying the holiday season in downtown Charlottesville when Adams tripped. As he tried to get up, three black people came upon them, one said something, perhaps even offering him a hand up.

Much like a similar episode of the Knockout Game last year in Springfield, Missouri: A bicyclist hit a pot hole near a black fraternity party, causing him to fly over the handlebars.  One of the party-goers came out to see if biker was alright. When he put his hand out to help him up, he punched the bicyclist in the face with the other hand.

Then walked away laughing.

Marc Adams is not clear about what his attacker said prior to the beginning of the Knockout Game.  According to the C-Ville Weekly, they
kicked Adams while he was on the ground, before being joined by his friends who beat Adams severely, breaking his ankle, cracking ribs and knocking out one of his teeth.
While Doucette suffered bruising to her head and tearing of the cartilage in her ear, Adams bore the brunt of the men’s aggression, sustaining broken bones and a concussion that he said has robbed him of any memory of the incident and its immediate aftermath.
All for no other reason than the attackers could attack and the victims could not resist.  The predators did not utter any racial epithets. None that the victims told police anyway. Without the magic words, it would not be correct to call this a hate crime.

But given that the overwhelming number of people who play this game are black, and most of the victims are not, it would be equally incorrect to say race has no role in the violence. Or that the violence is random. It is not.

The assault moved up the street as Adams and Doucette tried to escape their attackers. They screamed at passersby for help. They screamed at their attackers to stop. No one listened. The beating continued.

Then came the next identifying feature of the Knockout Game: The laughing.
they had no apparent interest in robbing her. Instead, she said, they seemed to delight in the brutality.
“They were laughing, high-fiving, hugging, and then returning to kick him,” said Doucette. “There was some kind of camaraderie to it.”
The predators laugh. They are having fun. In Philadelphia, a businessman in a similar situation pleaded with his attackers to stop. He asked them: “Why are you doing this? Why?”

“Its not our fault you can’t fight,” they told him. Then the laughing started again.

In Milwaukee, when a group of 50 to 100  black people attacked a few white kids on a Fourth of July picnic, a black woman stood over a white woman during the attack and motioned to her friend, laughing: “White girl bleed a lot,” she said, laughing even louder.

Her friends thought that was funny too. Maybe because it was true.

The laughing predators are documented in White Girl Bleed a Lot: The Return of Racial Violence to America and How the Media Ignore it.

Eventually the violence ended when the attackers knocked Adams out. And they got tired of beating up the girlfriend. But not before Doucette took their pictures.

Then came the next traditional phase of the Knockout Game: The dismissal.  The disinterest. Doucette turned her photos over to police and waited for the full court press to catch the dangerous men who tried to kill her boyfriend. And her.

Not that anyone would call this a life threatening attack. That’s another part of the Knockout Game:  Police and reporters usually call the injuries “non-life threatening” or minor — when this kind of violence can shatter a life time for a long time.

And the perpetrators are rarely apprehended.

The victims — and their families – are now left wondering what happened. Why no one cares. And why they feel weird about talking about the fact that their attackers were black, and it has happened before. Many times.

That is what happened to Sherry Godfrey in Springfield, Missouri when her son was the victim of racial violence from people attending (another) black fraternity party in Springfield.  Police did not investigate, other than asking a few perfunctory questions of a few party-goers. And when, last year, Godfrey asked if her son was the victim of racial violence, officials at the school where the attackers attended and local met met her inquiries with impatience. Then silence.  Says Godfrey:
If you have never been to Springfield, there might be a reason: Not much happens here. It is the home of Brad Pitt and Bass Pro Shops. It is a quiet and safe place to raise a family. So we thought.
After learning more about this epidemic of racial violence, I asked the police officers investigating the assault on my son if this had ever happened before in Springfield.
“All the time,” he said.
But no stories in the paper.
Unhappy with the police and media indifference to her son’s beating, she put up a web site — — where she gathered all the police reports and other information about the attack on her son. The perpetrators have yet to be brought to justice, but she’s not giving up:
We know that people at the party know who is responsible. We are putting up this web site in the hope that telling the world who they are, they will tell the world what they know. Trevor never saw his attackers and was unable to defend himself,  but we are going to fight back by seeking justice.
And now Doucette and Adams are today where Sherry Godfrey was last year. Says the C-Ville Weekly:
Nearly two weeks after the attack, the physical wounds are healing, but both Doucette and Adams are troubled by what they see as a lack of response from the Charlottesville Police Department.
“It’s like they don’t care,” said Doucette, who said she called police on December 29 to follow up on the investigation and was told that the case had been suspended due to a lack of information and had not been assigned to a detective. “I don’t understand why they couldn’t even have the courtesy to call and say we’re not even going to look for them,” she said.
That’s not how the Knockout Game is played, that’s why.

Colin Flaherty


Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

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