NYC group puts bounty on ‘knockout game’ participants

NY Jewish Community Relations Council offers reward for information leading to arrest, conviction of attack perpetrators.

Rabbi Gary Moskowitz teaches self-defense in New York 370 (photo credit: YouTube Screenshot)
Rabbi Gary Moskowitz teaches self-defense in New York 370
(photo credit: YouTube Screenshot)
A Jewish group in New York City has begun offering a bounty of $5,000 on participants in the so-called knockout game in which participants attack innocent bystanders, attempting to render them unconscious with a blow to the head.
The game, which has spread nationwide, has resulted in several deaths.
Most of the victims of the attacks in New York have been Jewish.
The Jewish Community Relations Council of New York, an umbrella organization coordinating activities among various Jewish organizations in the city, is now “offering a reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the perpetrators of ‘knockout’ attacks,” David Pollock, Director of Government Relations & Security at the JCRC, told The Jerusalem Post.
The organization, he said, has been in close contact with the New York Police Department, which he said has increased its patrols in the neighborhoods in which attacks have occurred.
“The NYPD Hate Crimes Task Force is also addressing school students in Brooklyn neighborhoods that hate crimes are not a joke that perpetrators of hate crimes could end up ruining their lives,” Pollock said.
Jewish groups are responding in various ways, with Rabbi Avi Shafran of the ultra-orthodox Agudath Israel stating that his organization is not reacting publicly to the attacks as “it’s widely believed that the more publicity given to these crimes, the greater the likelihood of copycats.”
Eli Leidner, a 26 year old hasidic man, was the latest victim of the game, having been assaulted in Brooklyn’s Williamsburg neighborhood on Sunday night.
“Two people came at me and the woman hit the front of my face like this. They just laughed afterwards and ran away, they didn’t say any words,” the Daily Mail reported Leidner as saying after the attack.
While most of the attacks nationwide do not seem to have been aimed at Jews, in New York that does not seem to be the case.
The attacks bring back memories for many Brooklyn Jews of the 1991 Crown Heights race riots in which several Jews were injured and one was murdered after a black child was struck and killed by a Jewish motorist.
“It seems clear that overwhelmingly here in New York the victims have been Jewish, there’s no question about that,” New York State Assemblyman Dov Hikind, himself an orthodox Jew, told CBS.
“You have New Yorkers who are afraid to walk the streets, afraid to let their kids walk the in streets because you don’t know who the next victim is going to be.”
The reports of the attacks are “deeply disturbing,” the Anti- Defamation League’s Evan Bernstein told the Post.
Citing several arrests by the NYPD in connection with the knockout attacks, Bernstein said that the police are “diligently working to find the alleged perpetrators of these incidents” in close consultation with the ADL.
“ADL has offered support to Jewish community and civic groups in Crown Heights and they have been very receptive to our effort,” he said.
“These attacks have dislodged the sense of safety and security that most New Yorkers feel when they walk our streets. The cowardly assailants often prey on the most vulnerable: Jews and Christians, Blacks and Whites. There have already been arrests. We want to give the NYPD an additional tool to stop these crimes as quickly as possible,” JCRC CEO Michael Miller wrote on his website in explanation of the bounty.
Leaders of the local African American community have “sent a clear message that random acts of violence, particularly those based on race or religion, are not acceptable in society,” Bernstein said.
“ADL’s 2012 Audit of Anti- Semitic Incidents counted a total of 248 incidents in New York State in 2012, representing a 27 percent increase from 2011. There were 87 incidents reported in the borough of Brooklyn in 2012.”
One local Jew has indicated that he believes that force and not just dialogue and collaboration with law enforcement is the answer. Rabbi Gary Moskowitz, a former police officer and a seventh-degree black belt, is training Jews in Brooklyn to protect themselves against attack.
Moskowitz, who has said that he learned to fight in a summer camp run by the extreme Right wing Kach movement, told The New York Post that “If Jewish kids started fighting back, they wouldn’t get picked on so much.”
The rabbi, who runs a karate dojo in nearby Queens, said that a few simple self-defense tactics could help potential victims ward off attackers.
“If you swing at me, you’re going to get hit back,” Moskowitz said.
Jerusalem Post staff contributed to this report.