Lawmakers Vs. "Knockout Game"

Nov 25, 2013

Assemblyman Jim Tedisco
Credit (WAMC Photo by Dave Lucas)

Two New York State legislators are double-teaming "The Knockout Game" with a law designed to inflict severe penalties on those who elect to play.

Guardian Angels Leader Curtis Sliwa addressing the public via YouTube, as the red berets promised to protect citizens in Brooklyn.  Recent attacks in New York City, Syracuse, New Haven, Washington, D.C. and Philadelphia have raised concerns across the nation over the "Knockout Game" -- where an unsuspecting victim is punched into unconsciousness by a young passerby. Some have called it an urban legend, but others point to recent crimes that fit the bill.

On Friday, Capital District Republican Assemblyman Jim Tedisco introduced legislation known as the  “Knockout Game Deterrent Act” – a first-in-the-nation law to protect innocent bystanders from being sucker-punched and assaulted. Word spread rapidly, and Tedisco was tapped for an appearance on Fox News’ morning show. I asked him if he was surprised the cable network expressed interest in speaking with him.

The bill, which is being drafted and is expected to be filed next week, will make any person regardless of his age who is convicted of Knockout Game individual assault or gang assault subject to 25 years in prison. Currently it’s between 4-15 years depending on the age of the defendant.  The legislation would ensure that juveniles who “play the Knockout Game” are sentenced as adults.

Tedisco's legislation gained political momentum with word Monday that Senator Hugh Farley chose to be the lead Senate sponsor of the “Knockout Game Deterrent Act.”  Tedisco adds that those who watch, snap photos, shoot video or otherwise take part in the action also would be held criminally responsible.

I told Assemblyman Tedisco The New York Times dismisses "Knockout" media reports and surveillance videos, suggesting the so-called game could be only an "urban myth" -- he responded "I think the only myth is the gobbelygook that newspaper's putting out to the public."

Back in Brooklyn, Curtis Sliwa says the Guardian Angels plan to have the last word when it comes to dealing with those who play "Knockout."

Though "knockout" incidents have been reported in New York City and Syracuse, police officials in the Capital Region say none so far have happened here.