…till President Obama weighs in on this case:
A man allegedly went on a rampage in Union Square on Wednesday afternoon and left a complete stranger brain-dead in the process.
Police said that the attack may have been a hate crime.
Friends of Jeffrey Babbitt, 62, were shocked to hear about the random act of violence that left the gentle, retired train conductor in a coma, CBS 2′s Dave Carlin reported on Friday…
Babbitt was minding his own business as he walked through the crowd near the chess boards in Union Square when a man made a hateful announcement and began his rampage, witnesses said.
“He said ‘the next white person who walks by I’m going to [expletive],’” one woman said. “His fist went in and the man’s head bobbed and he hit the ground and you could hear his skull hitting the ground.”
The man continued his rampage before demanding to see police officers.
“He stood there and hit two more people and asked for the police to come,” Michael Benson said.
Stunned witnesses counted a total of three people attacked. The suspect, Lashawn Marten, 31, remained at the scene until police arrived.
Sounds like a variation on the “knockout game,” except that in this version the perp had a few more years on him than is usual, and he was going solo rather than being part of a group competition. Otherwise the m.o. is similar to that of the knockout game, as is the choice of victim: an older white person.
The knockout game isn’t all that common, fortunately. But even one case would be one too many. Here’s a description of a St. Louis, Missouri version of the phenomenon:
They created a game. The objective was to knock out a stranger with a single punch, get them off their feet. Stealing a wallet or cellphone was not the point. “Do the lick,” in Eisele’s words, and get on with it…
They flaunted their TKO status on Facebook. They sought out other kids to join their nascent gang. They taught recruits to pick vulnerable, older adults. One rule was that a TKO member had to witness the assault, “kinda like a performance evaluation,” Eisele recalls.
Police are described as baffled, because the motive is so unconventional. But I don’t know why they’re baffled. Thug and gang culture glorifies violence for violence’s sake, and Facebook gives youths a venue for bragging about it. The juvenile justice system (as you will see if you read the article about the St. Louis situation) gives the perpetrators the sense that, if they are underage, they will get a mere slap on the wrist if caught. The Zimmerman case—and yes, our president’s comments about it—have heightened black anger at whites, and have probably made people even more reluctant to defend themselves for fear of becoming a George-Zimmerman-type pariah. What’s more, the method of attack, which takes the victims by surprise, makes it unlikely they would have enough time and warning to strike back, and in cities such as New York the perpetrators know that spectators are almost certainly unarmed.