Knockout game: Don't give in to fear, hatred

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Rachel Figueroa-Levin Rachel Figueroa-Levin

Rachel Figueroa-Levin tweets as @ElBloombito, @Jewyorican and @EveryGentrifier. ...

There's one single rule in the brutal knockout game: An attacker aims to render a victim unconscious with a single sucker punch.

With attacks from Milwaukee to Paterson to New York City -- where at least 10 people have been victimized -- the so-called knockout game has become the latest fear-inducing news story in our city. Several deaths also have been linked to it nationwide, according to media reports.

In NYC, two groups seemingly victimized by the game -- if you can call it that -- are older people and those of Jewish descent, though others have been attacked, too. Now, councilwoman-elect Laurie Cumbo, of Crown Heights, has stirred controversy after writing that perhaps the attacks in Brooklyn stem from tensions between the neighborhood's black and Jewish communities. That perhaps African-Americans resent the growth and influence of the borough's Jewish population.

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In Brooklyn, where several of the NYC attacks have taken place, there have been some arrests, including a 28-year-old man who was charged with harassment as a hate crime after he allegedly punched a 24-year-old Jewish man last month.

Unfortunately, this violent game also has brought out people who exploit violence to justify their bias. Chain emails have begun spreading hatred and urban legends, such as one detailing how an elderly Bronx woman was arrested after she defended herself against a knockout-game attacker. A chain email I saw also appeared to promote racism (dark-skinned teenagers are going to punch older white ladies) while another seemingly blamed the victims (seniors brought it on themselves by failing to carry firearms). Acts of violence occur every day in our city, and perhaps we have become more wary of the knockout game because of its random nature.

But don't flip out over email chains or what an elected official says.

These are indefensible attacks, but keep perspective: Crime in our city has been heading south, and these are a relatively small number of incidents compared with our population of more than 8 million people.

Also, people who target race or religion or those who use them to advance an ideology shouldn't have a place in our lives.

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Don't give them one.

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