OTR Interviews

'Knockout' crimes: Not new and not a game

Though so-called 'knockout game' assaults seem to be on the rise, the problem has been around for years


This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," December 2, 2013. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: It certainly isn't going away. There's more to report tonight, just last night another victim sucker punched on a New York City street. We're going to keep showing you examples of these attacks so you know what to look out for. There have been a string of knockouts in largely Jewish Brooklyn neighborhoods.

But the violence, even sometimes deadly assaults, are also happening all over the country. ON THE RECORD has been investigating knockout attacks in several states. Right now, New York State Assemblyman Dov Hikind joins us. Good evening, sir.


VAN SUSTEREN: It's nice to have you. I guess, last night, there was still another attack?

HIKIND: Yes, 26-year-old Hasidic Jew in Williamsburg was viciously attacked. All of these attacks are creating a tremendous amount of fear. People are afraid to walk the streets. I was walking with my wife in Brooklyn down Ocean Parkway, very famous street. You know, I find myself looking in back, looking in front and people are reacting in such a fashion.

These attacks, which are senseless, you know, it doesn't make any sense. You physically go over to somebody and you assault them. And you get some kind of pleasure, some kind of excitement. You sort of score points, I assume, some place. It's insanity. And, you know, three of the people in New York are -- are women of 78, 76 and 72.

Takes a lot of courage to walk over to a 78-year-old woman, raise your fist and hit her in the head. This is the kind of stuff that is going on. It's very, very serious, creating a lot of fear. You know, and there are some people -- sorry, Greta.

VAN SUSTEREN: Is it being -- I mean, is it getting the attention from law enforcement? In fact, should President Obama speak out on this? Would that sort of -- would that put the spotlight on it?

HIKIND: I raised that issue a week ago. That the president of the United States, the attorney general, should address this phenomena, this very sick phenomena that is going on. Young people involved in assaulting grandmothers, young people of 12 years old and in between. Of course, the president should speak out and say something. He does whatever he desires to do.

Even in individual cases. So, of course, we need the president, the attorney general to highlight this. You know, I was on a panel earlier today on a show where some people said, you know, young people acting, you know, they're bored. Can you imagine people are bored and, therefore, they go over to a 76-year-old woman and punch them in the face?

And these attacks have resulted in people dying. That's what the point is. Thank God in many of the cases, people were only hurt. But you know something, Greta? The psychological effect on people -- the 78-year- old woman who happens to be a neighbor, and I got her to go to the police, she's afraid to walk the streets. She was never afraid. Now she's afraid.

VAN SUSTEREN: This has been going on across the country. But I'm curious, is it -- is it targeting Jewish citizens in New York? Do you have there's a specific target? Is anything said as the attackers attack? I take it there's no robbery involved. Is there anything to suggest this is a specific target?

HIKIND: In almost all the cases nothing is said. Nothing is taken. It so happens that literally almost every single victim in New York has been Jewish and almost every single perpetrator has been black. It's not my job to say is it racial or not. At this point, it hardly matters.

The point is, this is a phenomena that is so sick and so beyond the pale, this kind of behavior, attacking innocent people. You know, Greta, you know, the way this happens is, you know, it isn't someone coming over to you and asking you for your wallet or asking for something from you. It takes a second, one moment. Someone just comes over, belts you in the head and disappears.

It is very, very dangerous and the authorities from a national level down to the local level need to do everything in the world and not talk about we need more money for community -- you know, for the youths of your community. We need more education. I agree with all that, but the most important thing we need is to put these people behind bars. That is the most effective thing to do.

VAN SUSTEREN: Assemblyman, thank you, sir.

HIKIND: Thank you, Greta, for keeping this alive.

VAN SUSTEREN: We're doing our best. It's a serious crime.

As we said, ON THE RECORD has been tracking knockout attacks from the East coast to the West coast and even to the Midwest, a "Milwaukee Journal Sentinel" columnist writing, "only suckers participate in the knockout game." Writer James Causey joins us. Good evening, sir.


VAN SUSTEREN: How did this start? How does this spread? Do you have any thought on this?

CAUSEY: Well, this is not a new phenomenon. It's been going on for quite some time. Now it's just getting all the media attention because they're starting to connect the dots. But this is something that's seen going on even when I was younger, it used to happen. So -- but now it's starting to pick up because people are talking about it and really starting to put it all together.

VAN SUSTEREN: You know, it's funny. Everyone objects to robbery, it's a horrible crime. But, you know, this for some reason almost steps it up one to me because it's so gratuitous. It's not robbery. Not even because you need the money or you want to go buy something with money you robbed. This is just to be vicious. It's just to hurt somebody. You oftentimes get a crowd laughing.

CAUSEY: Yes. You know, and I credit a lot of that to the rise in social media. If you look at some of the websites out there that cater to this, you know, you can see fight compilations, knockout compilations and things like this on some of the bigger websites out there. I mean, some of these young people are getting a "likes f"or it. They're gaining a lot of popularity for it. It's a sick form of -- of becoming famous overnight.

VAN SUSTEREN: You know -- You know, if some of 15 or 16 or 18-year-old does it and then some 13-year-old follow suit and you know, and hurts somebody and the person falls over and dies, that 13-year-old now has got a murder charge and that's the end of his life. That's what people don't realize. There's a whole younger layer who are looking up to older people doing this.

CAUSEY: Right. And, you know, someone was talking to me earlier about this issue today. And they said, well, you know, why do young people choose to, you know, throw a sucker punch as opposed to anything else? Well, I don't -- I don't think the intent -- the intent is not to kill. The intent is just to get that shock, that value, that thrill that comes from it.

I mean, they're not robbing these people. They're not shooting these people. They're not stabbing these people although that does take place. I think what they get out of this is just the idea that they can punch someone and feel good about that.

VAN SUSTEREN: How do we work towards ending -- obviously, we lock up the people who are doing this and we arrest them and put them through the criminal justice system. The bigger problem is that there an awful lot of African-American young people who are doing this against white Americans. You just heard our guest who's Jewish and said that that's happening there. How do we have this debate when we're all so touchy about the issue of race?

CAUSEY: Well, I don't think it's just African-Americans doing it against whites, either.

VAN SUSTEREN: I don't either. But that's -- I don't -- I mean, I've seen the other, too. We've seen so much of it, that that's where the debate is going.

CAUSEY: Right. Right. I mean, the racial element automatically turns it up, you know, ten-fold. But I think what we need to do. We need to focus on getting fathers involved in their children's lives. I mean, we could talk about saying President Obama needs to speak out about this, but I think on a grass roots level, we need to have families and intact fathers having communications with their sons.

They need to tell them not to do this. They need to tell them there's another way. You know, Obama could talk about this all he wants. I think we have to handle this on the family structure level. We have to stop being scared of our kids. I mean, we have communities where kids tend to rule things and that needs to change. We have to start taking control and being parents again. And that's not taking place.

VAN SUSTEREN: James, thank you very much for joining us. Love the "Journal Sentinel." I've been reading it for years. Thank you.

CAUSEY: Thank you.