Knockout game spreads beyond gang roots

Published 8:57 am Monday, June 23, 2014

The recent arrest of a 17-year-old Franklinton male for assaulting two people in separate incidents put the focus on what has come to be known as the “knockout game.”

The knockout game is a violent trend that recently gained nationwide attention as groups of roving teenagers allegedly attacked innocent bystanders, attempting to knock them unconscious with a single blow.

In the latest area attack, Malik Magee, 17, allegedly struck two individuals in separate incidents on Bene Street and Parker Street, respectively. Franklinton police charged Magee with second-degree battery, simple battery and a hate crime after the June 8 attacks. Magee was charged with a hate crime because one of the victims understood Magee commented he thought the victim was a homosexual.

Magee’s case is the second in the area for which a person was arrested and charged with assaulting individuals.

Franklinton Police Department Maj. Justin Brown said his office intended to keep a lid on assaults and other violent crimes, however he said the department needed assistance from the public to quell the behavior.

“I believe our enforcement efforts can deter the crime from continuing,” Brown said. “We cannot, however, raise everyone’s children, nor can we fix a problem immediately which took years of neglect to create.”

Brown said violence is violence, even if someone opts to call it a “game.”

“Our agency considers all crimes of violence serious in nature,” Brown said. “When a criminal shows little to no regard for another person’s life, the crime is considered especially heinous.”

Brown said the knockout game is an activity rooted in gang life from around the country.

“The crime was initially reported as a gang initiation in other parts of the country. With social media and other forms of video sharing, the trend has spread outside of the gang environment,” Brown said. “Teens and young adults, who have no gang affiliation, are now taking part in what some consider to be a national disgrace. This crime is no different or holds no greater weight than any other personal crime. What gives it credence is the public exposure it has been given and the visual reference most of the public has witnessed on television or the Internet. The lack of moral character displayed while participating in the crime is also considered very disturbing to the public.”

Brown maintained there are no organized gangs in the parish.

“Franklinton and Washington Parish have no organized gangs,” Brown said. “By definition, the groups of young people who identify themselves by a certain name are not considered gangs. In the past, those that attempted to organize a group and participate in criminal activity were swiftly jailed and subsequently sent to prison.”

A similar assault in Covington preceded the local attacks.

“Covington experienced a similar crime just a few weeks prior to our incident,” Brown said. “All offenders were arrested and will stand trial. Statistically speaking, criminals should avoid this particular crime. The chances of not being caught have not fared too well in their favor.”

Brown said victims can suffer major injuries from the assaults.

“Injuries can include, but are not limited to, loss of consciousness, broken (or) fractured bones, lacerations and cuts,” Brown said. “In the most severe examples, loss of visual and auditory functioning, brain damage and death have occurred.”