By now, almost everyone has seen one of the semi-amusing videos of black teen mobs rampaging through a store. Maybe we’ve even seen the non-amusing pictures of the victims, or heard their stories. Most Americans have heard of recent violent “flash mobs,” which are the bands of black teens that attack mostly white victims and white businesses, as even the New York Times once noted.
But the flash mobs, which are more accurately called “race riots” or “racial mob violence,” are not the only interesting topic to cover in our national conversation about race. There is also the “knockout game,” which is stunning in its brutal simplicity and stark racial significance.
The knockout game involves “unprovoked attacks on innocent bystanders,” according to police who have had to deal with it. A retired officer explained, “Normally it was a group of black males, one of which would strike him as hard as he could in the face, attempting to knock him out with one punch,” says retired Sgt. Don Pizzo. The victims are typically not robbed, but simply punched with no provocation. Such attacks have been reported in Illinois, Massachusetts, Missouri, and New Jersey.
The knockout game has claimed at least one life so far. In St. Louis this year, 72-year old Hoang Nguyen was walking with his wife, Yen, when four “young people” attacked. The attacker pushed the old man’s face to the side to make a “clear target for his fist,” recalled his wife. Nguyen was punched so hard that he fell to the ground and struck his head. Then the attacker turned on Nguyen’s 59-year-old wife, punching her so hard that she suffered a broken eye socket. She could only watch as her husband was then kicked repeatedly. Hoang succumbed to his injuries later that day. A young black male, 18-year-old Elex Murphy, is charged with first-degree murder.
In addition, a mob of young black males can be seen playing the game here. The video shows the group attacking a young white man named Adam Taylor, who was left with internal bleeding, bruising of the brain, severe whiplash, and scratches on his face when he was beaten in Columbia, MO in 2009.
But the knockout game must be seen in the context of black-on-white violence in America. The big picture is that black-on-white violence is a social problem that deserves more attention, regardless of whether the overall crime rate is rising or falling. Department of Justice statistics show that 33% of white murder victims are killed by a non-white, while only 8% of black murder victims are killed by a non-black. Even greater disparities exist in violent crime and robbery.
Some of those who work with these kids blame boredom and the kids’ need to prove their toughness. Those causes will be present for a long time, thus the problem will remain. Moreover, the problem will predictably get worse, as some of the mobs are armed.