The PJ Tatler

Philly Mayor Trying to 'Walk That Fine Balance' on Giving Knockout Game Too Much Press

Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter danced around the question of whether the “knockout game,” in which random people are suckerpunched by a group of youths, is really a phenomenon or just a case of “some young people have done some not so smart things that negatively impact someone else’s life and certainly their own as well.”

The attacks in Philly include a 30-year-old chef visiting the city for Thanksgiving who had to undergo surgery to wire his jaw shut, and a 63-year-old man attacked Sunday as the suspects videotaped the crime.

“I’m not exactly sure what’s real or not. What I do know is that, unfortunately, and as the previous person was talking about, spreading across social media are now video of these kinds of random physical attacks or assaults, which is really what they are. If others choose to give it a particular name, so be it. But I think the spread as we’re seeming to experience it through the traditional media of these kinds of incidents in cities all across the United States of America is of great concern. And so I’m less about the name,” Nutter told CNN last night.

The mayor said the attention that the assault are receiving in the media “is part of the challenge of the power of social media, certainly, a 24/7 international news cycle.”

“Things go up, things get posted. Unfortunately, I think some young people have done some not so smart things that negatively impact someone else’s life and certainly their own as well. If you continue to see it, day after day after day, multiple times throughout the course of the 24/7 news cycle, it becomes a thing. It becomes something that people talk about. It starts to become, if you will, a trend,” he said. “And more and more young people who see this, then you will get, unfortunately, some copycat incidents. I laid out last week — we acknowledged that there may be some kind of issue going on across the country, not necessarily a Philadelphia phenomenon.”

“We don’t have any absolute confirmed cases but, unfortunately, people have been assaulted in Philadelphia.”

When asked if the attacks are racially motivated, Nutter replied, “I don’t know what’s in the mind of a person that comes out through the course of an investigation.”

“But I have to tell you, if you are attacked, you really don’t care at that moment, quite frankly, whether it was because of race or gender or sexual preference or orientation or anything else. You’re hurt. You’re injured. Somebody could possibly be killed. We need to cut out. When you look at what Solomon Jones, here in Philadelphia, wrote just last week that these young people, unfortunately, maybe mostly males, they’re young, their testosterone flowing all over the place, they don’t always make the best judgments,” he said.

Jones, a blogger, wrote an open letter to “young brothers” in the City of Brotherly Love, stressing “there’s nothing honorable about terrorizing the very community your warrior instincts should protect” and slamming the attackers for “showing extreme indifference to human life.”

“If you want to knock something out, young brothers, knock out the nonsense. We need you to be warriors in the fight for our community, not warriors in the fight against it. In order for you to do that effectively, you’ll have to move beyond sheer brutality, and learn to fight with your minds,” Jones wrote.

“So what we’re saying, at least here in the city, is parents pay attention to what’s going on with your kids,” Nutter said. “Young people, don’t make a dumb mistake or incorrect choice that could negatively hurt someone and affect your life for the rest of your life. Law enforcement is paying attention. So again, this is not something to play with.”

“I think you have to be proactive on it and walk that fine balance between giving something too much attention versus ignoring it. I think what we’re trying to do at least is play it right down the middle, which is something may be going on. We want to alert the public to it. Pay attention to what’s going on around you. And young people, cut it out before you get yourself in trouble.”