The incidents have taken place for several months spanning many different states, but is starting to gain more attention thanks to some viral videos of attacks spreading on the internet.
One of the biggest stories in the Knockout trend came from New Jersey, where in September an unprompted attack left a 46-year-old Hoboken man dead. Police said Ralph Eric Santiago was found dead with his neck broken and his head wedged between iron fence posts.
Police arrested three teenage boys, saying they were playing a variation of the game Knockout, which NJ.com described as a game where a group of people who pick a person at random and attempt to knock the unsuspecting person unconscious with one punch.
Several instances of the Knockout game have been posted on YouTube, showing violent attacks that often send victims crashing to the pavement.
The Knockout trend appears to be part of a larger trend of violently misbehaving teens. In the past few years some of these teens have turned to social media to organize “flash mobs” in which they have attacked strangers and pilfered stores. In one such attack, a group of teens stole $3,000 worth of designer jeans from a Chicago store in just minutes.
As the Knockout game increases in popularity, many news outlets have picked up on racial aspects of the story. The perpetrators in several of the cases have been black youths, leading some to responses that relied on racism and white fears.
WND, which has been one of the news outlets giving the most coverage to the Knockout trend, has used language like “black mobs” in stories. In one story about a victim turning the tables and stabbing alleged attacker DeAndre Felton, writer Colin Flaherty frequently refers to the race of the attackers.
“DeAndre was part of a pattern of hundreds of examples of black mob violence documented in more than 80 cities revealed in “White Girl Bleed a Lot: The return of racial violence and how the media ignore it,” he wrote.
But the Knockout game is a complicated issue that has even black leaders responding. On 93.7 WBLK, a black-owned radio station in Buffalo, writer Chris Reynolds posted a video of a teen knocking out a teacher along with the title, “Have We Failed To Build Safe Communities?”