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It’s called the Knockout Game,” a violent and deadly amusement for teenagers who identify an unsuspecting victim and deliver a cold-hearted sucker punch that is so forceful, it renders the person unconscious.

As a black man, I am horrified, saddened and angry.

Police say this deeply troubling trend that so far seems to be linked mostly to young black men is spreading to many cities including Washington, D.C., Chicago, New York, St. Louis, and Pittsburgh.

During the game, the young men take turns until one of them knocks the victim unconscious. There have been at least three reported deaths within the last two years from this deadly activity – and police say the game is becoming more popular, especially in black communities across the country.

Reports of these assaults have increased in recent weeks and the black teens who participate in this sick, violent game are putting their futures at risk, and their victims are turning up in hospital beds and morgues.

So what’s the purpose of the “Knockout Game?”

“For the fun of it,” one teen explains, according to the CBS station in Washington, D.C.

“They just want to see if you got enough strength to knock somebody out,” another teenager said.

We’re losing too many young black men to an insane sub-culture that glorifies violence; we’re watching their self-destruction play out on the streets of America every day and, sadly, some of us could become victims of this dangerous activity that our young people call a “game.”

We can’t blame the “Knockout Game” on racism. This has nothing to do with racial profiling. It has nothing to do with Republicans or the Tea Party. It has nothing to do with white supremacists. It has nothing to do with “stand your ground” laws. This is about an evil that has taken hold of some of our young black men, our sons, our children, and we are fighting for their souls.

“This is the only thing they have to do with their lives?” my father-in-law asked with exasperation.

Black Americans should be as collectively outraged by the “Knockout Game,” as we were about Trayvon Martin’s death.

A few months ago, a 13-year-old and a 14-year-old were charged with murdering a New Jersey homeless man during the “Knockout Game.” This summer, Elex Murphy, a young black man, was sentenced to 55 years in prison for killing a 72-year-old businessman during the game. And last week, a 27-year-old victim walking in Washington, D.C. was punched in the head when a group of about eight men on bikes rode up behind her.

Some social science experts blame this vicious culture on the proliferation of violent video games; others suggest that bad parenting is responsible as well as poverty and budget cuts for after-school programs. And some faith leaders say many of our young black men need God in their lives.

The “Knockout Game” reminds me of those urban legend stories I heard growing up in Detroit when black gangs reportedly performed a deadly initiation ritual where they would drive around the city at night with their headlights off and when conscientious and unsuspecting motorists would flash their headlights to alert the driver, the gang members would follow those motorists – and kill them. So is history repeating itself?

Today, while watching real-life CBS video footage of the “Knockout Game,” I was stuck by the callousness of six young black men who celebrated knocking a man to the ground and leaving him lying on the pavement unconscious, without a second thought.

They took pride in the punch as they walked away. There is an emotional disconnect – sort of a numbness — among some of our young black men that is extremely disturbing.

They just don’t care.

Just so you know, this horrific game also goes by the name ‘Knockout King’ and ‘Pick ‘Em Out and Knock ‘Em Down.’ And police suggest that people stay vigilant while walking the streets.

I don’t have all the answers for why so many of our young black men are self-destructing at such a rapid pace. I only know that black

America needs to take ownership of this problem — and figure it out — before it’s too late.

What do you think?

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62 thoughts on “In Youth’s Violent Game of “Knockout,” There Are No Winners

  1. fei du fei on said:

    While white people deserve every punch they got — this is a democratic country, and if they encourage those kind of behaviour by tolerate wrong things done by any group of people, they got what they wanted.

  2. Equitas on said:

    Michael Cottman, you said “As a black man, I am horrified, saddened and angry.” For whom or what? For the white people those black men cold cocked? Or for the reputation of the black community of which you are a part?

  3. Although the knockout game is being done almost exclusively by blacks against whites, no where do you, Michael H Cottman, mention this fact in your article. The knockout game is racist. How could you possibly see it otherwise? This kind of ignorance perpetuates the problem. Not including this fact in your article is cowardly. And blacks wonder why they are mistrusted and profiled. Unfortunately, the tides are turning against black people by not only whites, but most other ethnicities as well.

  4. This has nothing to do with racism? Why because the victims are white? Such hypocrisy among the black leaders in this country. It is also called the Polar Bear Game..

  5. Hugh Jeffenkok on said:

    The problem won’t end until enough idiots playing the “knockout game” get killed by the person they were trying to sucker punch.

    • Imsoinciteful on said:

      That’s why I carry and conceal and when I get bored, I go trolling through certain parts of town, I guess you could say.

  6. Great article! Thank you! It also horrifies and saddens me. We need a public prayer vigil–I am glad that you got right to the heart of the matter–it is evil. More voices like yours are needed.

  7. PaytonB on said:

    The perpetrators are young black men, and the victims are all non blacks. Call it what it is, racism. If you want to know how to fix it, you first have to admit the full extent of the problem. If it were all about boredom, there would be black victims too.

  8. bob mahar on said:

    The author needs to accept the facts that this IS racism. The perpetrators are mostly black and the victims are mostly white. What would the author say if groups of white teens where targeting black people for random beatings???

    I also do not buy into the argument that violent video games are to blame. This is unless it is shown that only black people play violent video games.

    The black community needs to step up and condemn these violent racists.

  9. Great article. I don’t think this is racism. It’s boredom, being desensitized to violence and being over stimulated and wanting the power as our Call of Duty, and our ultimate fighter heroes have. Imagine a 14 year old kid knocking someone out, the status, power and exhilaration it must bring. Better than watching an UFC knockout on PPV. The sad thing this is virus behaviour and it will spread till it burns itself out or we find a cure.

  10. Put them in the ring with a real knockout pro, then let them have their Moms and Dads to watch them get the punishment they deserve! Then put their ass away in prison for a while.

  11. DaninSTL on said:

    What does the tea party or republican party have to do with racism or the knockout game? That seems like profiling to me. Democrats are the biggest racist in the country taking advantage of all of us. They want everyone on welfare or in some socialist program.
    As far as the knockout game goes, it might be a “Black” so called game at this point with white people as targets in a racist event but soon enough all kids will be copy cats.
    To me it’s a hate crime, period.

  12. icallbs on said:

    Please some of you who cry racism in America argue the numbers with me, THE REAL numbers……you don’t because that facts do PROVE where racism lies in America. To bad your community refuses to do ANYTHING about it.
    I keep seeing the “Obama is president” crap. We all know, shit I VOTED FOR HIM. But hey guess what, his term is almost over and it’ll be a long while before another black man is elected. But do you really think your attitude of not taking responsibility is the answer? Not admitting there is in fact a problem?
    Look at the numbers of crimes committed against whites by blacks……Of course I’m sure in your communities mind this is some how justified….at least that seems to be the mentality.

  13. icallbs on said:

    exert from an article:

    exert from article:

    After researching the FBI numbers for “Suicide of a Superpower,” this writer concluded: “An analysis of ‘single offender victimization figures’ from the FBI for 2007 finds blacks committed 433,934 crimes against whites, eight times the 55,685 whites committed against blacks. Interracial rape is almost exclusively black on white — with 14,000 assaults on white women by African Americans in 2007. Not one case of a white sexual assault on a black female was found in the FBI study.”

    Though blacks are outnumbered 5-to-1 in the population by whites, they commit eight times as many crimes against whites as the reverse. By those 2007 numbers, a black male was 40 times as likely to assault a white person as the reverse.

    If interracial crime is the ugliest manifestation of racism, what does this tell us about where racism really resides — in America?

    thoughts??? I bet silence lmao

    Thoughts Blackamerica? Please enlighten me, I beg you……TAKE RESPONSIBILITY!!!

    • Mike Wills on said:

      First of all, you whole premise is flawed as you seem to suggest that racism is the root cause for all of the crime statistics you just spouted when just about all of them with the exception of sexual assault, is about POVERTY. But you idiots don’t truly want to admit the reasons behind poverty. So stay ignorant until you can actually handle the truth.

      • TheDude on said:

        If you did your homework you would know that the crime rate amongst blacks is still much higher than those of other races in similar economic conditions.

  14. Angry and tired on said:

    If you’re a black male between 12-45 I am not going to trust you. Simple as that. The only black males I encounter and like off the bat are those who serve or have served in the military.

    We have propped up black males in this country to such a degree that they all think they’re amazing athletes, good fighters, cooler, and so on. As a white male, they automatically assume I’m intimidated. When they realize that I’m not you can literally see a stupid look of confusion come over their face. The level of unwarranted acclaim is appalling. Half of the commercials on TV show a sharp looking black guy upping some stupid white male. They have zero manners unless they mostly grew up around whites or served.

    Fix the damn problem. I don’t care about excuses and I don’t care how you fix it. All I have to say is that it’s your own doing and until it is fixed expect me to treat you as a criminal and possible danger. Step my way and I will make you pay dearly, assuming I even have a chance considering blacks attack in cowardly ways such as sucker punches or as a pack. So f’n sick of this behavior and I have ZERO confidence in black people’s ability to fix it.

    – Angry white guy

      • Angry and tired on said:

        What a poor comparison. Blacks do not fear violence from whites. Why would they? It’s statistically insignificant. If you want to compare extreme violent with trust then be my guest, but don’t expect me to buy into such a ridiculous argument.

  15. Judy Montgomery on said:

    Where is: Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, marching in the street and all the news media. That’s right, it was black on white crime and this cannot be deemed racism. Wake up America and treat crime as crime and use force to stop it. The media needs to report it like it is.

  16. Mr. Valdez, the saying goes, one shows their ignorance the minute they open their mouth………you have really shown just how ignorant you are!!!! Your ranting has nothing to do with this issue at all, this has to do with poor parenting and an idle mind which is the devil’s playground!!! This story is a version of hazing for initiation into the inner city gangs and such. Noone is teaching and training these kids about the consequeses of their actions can bring; you have scared straight out……well they need to update that show to include some kids who are serving time now so these “wanna be” thugs can see just where their lives are really headed, but in the mean time, you Mr. Valdez…..think before you open your mouth…….I know that this is a free country……..but know what you are talking about before you open your mouth.

  17. Disgusting.

    I’m Indian but I’m ashamed of my fellow coloured man after seeing this.

    Racism is wrong and violence is never the answer regardless of the colour of the perpetrator.

  18. icallbs on said:

    Perfect example of using the race card to much. I’m white, I have a six figure salary, drive a nice car etc. anyway one day I was pressed down because I was helping a friend move, I went into a sunglass Hut and asked to see a pair of Maui Jim sunglasses that cost around $400, the woman didn’t want to take them out of the case because she thought they were too expensive for me, yes a 400 dollar pair of sunglasses.

    Oprah has a similar occurrence, of course the item was much more expensive, but when it happened to her its racism such bullshit.

  19. icallbs on said:

    Black america needs to ADMIT that they are the true prejudice ones. But that whole community is to weak and pathetic to do so. You continue to be just low life scum. Look a majority of your neighborhoods. It has become a race of violence and lazyness. Its sad because THEY can’t admit their own problems they just keep passing blame onto everybody else.

    The worse part is the day will come when ALL other races in this country are going to get sick of this shit THAT HAS BEEN GOING ON FOR MANY YEARS and take REAL action.

    Evolve…teach your youth…stop playing the blame game. Stop crying about shit in the past (because that’s ALL your race does, instead of admitting their problems today) .

    Of course nothing will change because they are to busy blaming everybody BUT themselves….

  20. Christopher on said:

    The amount of racism in these comments is depressing. I’m not implying I am any better than anyone out there, but racism works both ways. It matters not what race you come from. All races suffer from the ignorant burden of racism. It has existed since the dawn of man, and we are so stupid we still haven’t figured it out. I was once accused of being racist because I crossed the street when several black teens with baggy pants and huge jackets were coming my way. Well this story is why.

  21. I’ve seen victims that are white, Jewish, Asian and (I think) Hispanic. But, and this really is an honest question, have there been any African-American victims? Is it totally random or anything-but-black violence?

  22. I just got paid $858o working off my computer this month. And if you think that’s cool, my divorced friend has twin toddlers and made over $9k her first month. It feels so good making so much money when other people have to work for so much less.
    This is what I do………..

  23. The world we live in today is strange? Hate crimes grow daily. Yet citizens who can make a difference do not. It does not matter the the race of humans that commit crimes, but the humans that commit this kind of crime should pay. Don’t be blind, stand up for your human rights and bring these dogs down. Don’t be a by-stander….do what is right and stand up for the innocence.

  24. I found your article after a search tonight. I was shaken up by the video after seeing it yesterday. I am deeply saddened that this kind of thing is happening. I was thinking today that Malcolm X would most probably have thought that this type of thing is insane, illogical and horribly destructive for black people. He, at least, thought he was fighting for something. These young men are just showing their extreme stupidity and inability to figure out how to live in the world amid peer pressure to partake in savage ‘rights of passage.’ Thank you for your call to action. Black leaders, indeed, should be vocal about sharing their disgust that these horrific acts are happening. And thank you for being one of those leaders who is brave enough to say enough is enough.

  25. Hart2008 on said:

    Omg. This is completely racial. It is all of our faults. We have allowed divisive politics to go unchallenged for far too long. When political power is so easily gained by promoting a victim class that victim class feels totally justified in this type of behavior. Where’s Sharpton, Jackson, Obama ect? Laughing their asses off. It may have taken 30 years but it worked.

  26. Cottman, you’re kidding, right? ‘Not racial’? HELLO???????????????????????

    You’re brain dead! But no-actually-you’re just a liar-like Oprah Winfrey, and the other Race Hustlers-whining your way to the bank because the $’s with the race-baiters.

    This is no ‘Game’, and it’s totally racial. How you know that Sir? I’ll make it easy for you! You change the race of the perpetrators-hypothetically-and see if YOU, AND THE RACE-BAITERS LIKE YOU, WOULD GO APE-S_ _T calling ‘racist!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!’.

    Give me, and all of us, a BREAK.

  27. really you can’t be serious nothing to do with racial profiling yet it’s black kids targeting Jewish people and white people and its not a racial issue??? If it was white kids running around knocking out blacks it would be Armageddon people are such hypocrites it saddens me.

    It’s needs to be admitted that this is a racial issue. maybe poor education I’d really don’t know, and everybody wonders why blacks are profiled, its for acts like these that have been going on for years with the white community too scared to say anything. Fact of the matter is blacks commit four times the violent crimes against whites then whites do against blacks I guess that has nothing to do with race either.

    if the racial problem is admitted then it can be solved, ignoring it and saying it is not a racial issue will just keep it going. it’s time to admit that young black youths are taught to hate and not trust whites that is the sad fact of the matter.

    To bad nobody will fucking admit it.

  28. This is exactly the kind of behavior that earned Ren-eeeeee-Sha McBride a 12 gauge in the grille. Do not trust a black teenager within arms reach of you. Just the FACTS Peeps.

  29. Mrs Tonja on said:

    Parents, put your big boy and big girl panties and drawers on and deal with your kids. Don’t just sit by and allow these kids to be menaces to society. You created them, so handle them before a pall bearer does or the penal system!!!

  30. S.O.S. (STUCK ON STUPID)! Idle hands are the Devil’s workshop. Read a book! Pick up paper and trash in your neighborhoods. If I lived a thousand years, I could not figure out why such a game is catching on around this United States.

  31. Huh? No racial profiling? Whites and Jews are targeted specifically. Where’s the race baiters like Sharpton and Jackson? Where’s the liberals? Liberal media? Silence. Gee what a surprise. Hypocrites of the worst kind.

  32. Stop and Frisk, Stand your Ground, you see countless videos of violent behavior
    And 90% of the perps are black and you really wonder way these programs are implemented in black
    Community’s really?? The good ol boy conservative state I live in this is all some CCW would need to
    Go George Zim on those dumb azzez

    • Bobby Montague on said:

      This has nothing to do with “the good ol boys” or anything else but the fact that these kids are choosing this action… it what it is, DUMB and STUPID!!!! The fact is this, one day they’ll hit the wrong one and it will be all over the news as some type of threat on the black youth of America….children keep your hands to yourself, you’ll live longer….thing about that

  33. This has zero to do with music, video games, the internet or cutbacks in school programs. I’ve been hearing all these same excuses since I was in school. You always have bad kids in every school. For the most part it’s the public schools.

    What this stems from is the parents or lack thereof. Parents have become protective and “friends” of their kids. God forbid little Latisha or Elex did something wrong and was taught to take any responsibility for it. Single family homes, parents who have kids they don’t want and lack of any ethics instilled into so many kids and this is what you wind up with. It’s been going on forever and has nothing to do with this time in history. The violence has simply escalated and at an earlier age.

    I wish one day one of these knockout artists try this funny game on me. Then they are going to find out what happens when you pick the wrong target.. Nothing new about bullies.

  34. Hey….Obama…ya listening? Where are you. Your silence is deafening….oh wait. I forgot. You are a racist pig and an islamist. You are also an America hating and white person hating bigot. You are a disgrace to America. You are the worst president in American history a 1000 times over. Go to hell racist Obama!!!!

  35. These stupid teenagers playing the Knock-Out game need to get knocked the fuck out and sent to jail for assaulting, physically-harming, and actually KILLING innocent bystanders.

  36. Julius Lamont on said:

    Our youths culture is being filled with sex, drugs, violence and money. These things are all on the television and all on the radio. We have to fight for our children’s future, or they won’t have one……. Just an FYI, today’s hip hop is filled with sex, violence, drugs and money. There is no love and life in hip hop anymore. Let’s do our part……

  37. Sexy Leroy on said:

    The minute one of these youngniggas gets shot in the face their mammy’s will say they were innocent kids and didn’t deserve to die. I don’t trust youth- of any color!

    • FIFTY AND PHUNE on said:

      No word from Sean or Bill about the 9 year old boy on the porch with a dead chicken around his neck. They report on the crimes that blacks commit against whites and Al and Jesse reports on the crimes that white commits against blacks. They are even but yet you have a problem with only Al and Jesse.

  38. Sex, violence, drugs, and a myriad of other cultural deviance has steadily been feed to our young people. The result is a generation of desensitized people who no longer have the capacity to feel empathy for others. Why are we surprised by this most recent development?

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