Knockout in Flatbush Spurs Group to Offer Reward

FLATBUSH -

A young woman was knocked to the ground on Shabbos afternoon in Flatbush in an attempted knockout attack, spurring a local Flatbush group to offer a $5,500 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of perpetrators in that neighborhood.

The Flatbush Jewish Community Coalition, an umbrella organization of Flatbush’s kehillos, announced the $5,500 award on Motzoei Shabbos with the tagline “Enough!”

“Many yeshivah and Bais Yaakov administrators, as well as parents, have expressed serious concern for the well-being of students walking home from school late in the evening,” FJCC chairman Josh Mehlman said in a statement released Sunday evening.

“The safe streets we have all come to enjoy suddenly seem precarious, and we must work together to keep our community safe.”

Police have reported at least a dozen attacks against members of the Jewish community in the New York City area since September. In several incidents, the victim was punched seemingly at random while walking past a group of young men, leading some to believe the attacks may be part of a street game called “knockout.”

The reward announcement comes hours after a 20-year-old frum woman was attacked on Avenue M and McDonald Avenue in Midwood by an African-American man. The man, who was walking toward her, passed her and then walloped her on the head. The victim was knocked to the ground but was not hurt. She later filed a report with the police.

On Sunday, Councilman David Greenfield met with officials at the 66th Precinct, which covers Boro Park, requesting they beef up their patrols in the area. He told Hamodia that he and councilman-elect Chaim Deutsch, who will represent Flatbush starting Jan. 1, are working on a plan to help better protect nervous residents.

“We are especially concerned about Shabbos being a day for ‘knockouts,’” Greenfield said. “I’m not saying there are more [attacks on Shabbos] but the last two we had in the Midwood area happened on Shabbos.”

Greenfield said he was not sure if Shabbos was a day specifically chosen by the attackers, but was concerned over the fact that Shomrim do not patrol on Shabbos  and there are fewer witnesses.

Deutsch, who founded the Flatbush Shomrim 20 years ago after a similar wave of crime, said he was in touch with police.

“I am in daily consultation with NYPD commanders and was assured that they are taking all necessary steps to bring these perpetrators to justice,” Deutsch said in a statement. “We will do everything in our power to keep our community safe.”

Greenfield said that he did not want to go into police tactics, but he was optimistic that police have a plan to make people feel secure.

While Commissioner Raymond Kelly has given conflicting messages about whether he believes knockouts are real or an urban myth, Greenfield said that police on the precinct and boro level agree that it is a disturbing phenomenon that must be combated.

But he added that he is “encouraged” by remarks incoming commissioner William Bratton made to the Daily News on Friday.

“We’ll attack trends like knockout the way a doctor goes after a basal cell before it becomes a melanoma,” Bratton said. “That’s what we did with the wolf packs of the late 1980s and early 1990s — go after them aggressively.”