A 26-year-old Hasidic man was punched in the face last night in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, seemingly part of the recent spate of ‘knockout’ attacks by groups of teenagers, the New York Post reports. While the trend is occurring elsewhere across the country and is certainly nothing new, the victims of the more than 10 attacks in New York over the past month have all been Jewish, and, as the Post points out, many were traveling in predominately Jewish neighborhoods.
Most disturbing, however, has been the inclusion of elderly men and women as targets. A 78-year-old woman was punched in the face in the Midwood section of Brooklyn in November, and last week a 76-year-old woman was punched in Brownsville, NY.
Fears among the local Jewish community are growing as the attacks continue, with State Assemblyman Dov Hikind as the most vocal force decrying the trend. But as the New York Times reported last month, the disorganized nature of the assaults has left authorities confounded on how best to handle them.
“It’s sick, it’s scary,” said Mr. Hikind, who gathered with other Jewish community leaders last week to discuss the attacks. “It’s like nothing I’ve experienced in my 31 years in office.”
But police officials cautioned that they had yet to see evidence of an organized game spreading among teenagers online, though they have been reluctant to rule out the possibility.
We’ll keep you updated as we hear more.
Stephanie Butnick is chief strategy officer of Tablet Magazine, co-founder of Tablet Studios, and a host of the Unorthodox podcast.