Fear about the “Knockout Game” ie Violent Assaults for No Apparent Reason Happening in DC

Photo by PoPville flickr user hoja-lata

I’ve gotten an extraordinary number of emails from folks concerned with reports of people getting hit for no reason recently referred to as the “knockout game”. DCist first reported that there were (at least) two victims in Columbia Heights. The story was then picked up by WJLA, CBS Local, NBC Washington and MyFoxDC.

Unfortunately incidents of assaults occurring for no apparent reason are not new (over the years there are sadly too many to link to). Violent assaults, especially when there is no apparent motive, be they financial or otherwise, are horrifying to read about that. I inquired with MPD to see if this was a growing trend and as of last night they reply:

“We are investigating two simple assaults. In these incidents the victims sustained minor injuries and were not knocked out. In one of the incidents, the attack appeared to be unprovoked. In the other, it is not clear at this time, but it is under investigation. As always we urge the public to be aware of their surroundings and report suspicious behavior or persons to the police by calling 911. Anyone with information about these assaults is asked to call the police at (202) 727-9099. Additionally, anonymous information may be submitted to the department’s TEXT TIP LINE by text messaging 50411.”

I think it is an important reminder be aware of your surroundings. As we’ve discussed hundreds of times there is no way to be 100% immune to violent crime, like this or more traditional muggings, but practicing “street smarts” can help. Whether or not the “knockout game” is actually occurring in DC is not the paramount concern because these types of incidents have always happened in DC as long as I can remember, sadly. Even still, I believe there is a far greater chance of a traditional mugging. What is of greatest concern to me is the overall safety, regardless of the type of threat, of District residents and visitors. So be they muggers, idiot kids, those with serious mental health problems, or just plain psychopaths – be aware. Be alert. Be smart. Don’t hesitate to call 911. But I do think it is important to keep things, as upsetting as they can be to read, in perspective. At this point it seems like there were two assaults in Columbia Heights, that did not seem to have any apparent financial motive. There are however, dozens of serious muggings and/or assaults every week. Not that we need to obsess about getting mugged either.

I’m having a hard time articulating what I want to say – be safe, be smart but I don’t think we need to get hysterical about these most recent cases in and of themselves. I do think we need to continue to demand more from our leaders – a modicum of “safety” on our streets so we are free to walk or bike without fear of assault be it from a “knockout game” or traditional mugging. And we don’t need to run to the hills either.

171 Comment

  • I hope one of these little f*ckers picks the wrong target for their stupid little game and gets the shit kicked out of him. Like some average looking guy, who happens to be a black belt. Or an off duty cop.

    • one of the jiu jitsu instructors at my gym was assaulted by a guy outside the CVS in Columbia Heights earlier this year and did have the embarrassing experience of quickly being moved to the ground and held in place until the cops could arrive (the attacker had also been bothering several senior citizens and other less-imposing targets). No need to injure the attacker; just make sure he knew he wasn’t very tough.

      • “No need to injure the attacker; just make sure he knew he wasn’t very tough.” I disagree. Strongly. Tactics like shame don’t work on sociopaths who beat up old ladies.

    • one of the jiu jitsu instructors at my gym was assaulted by a guy outside the CVS in Columbia Heights earlier this year and the attacker had the embarrassing experience of quickly being moved to the ground and held in place until the cops could arrive (the attacker had also been bothering several senior citizens and other less-imposing targets). No need to injure the attacker; just make sure he knew he wasn’t very tough.

    • absolutely.

    • I have heard of an acquaintance who is not one of the two victims mentioned in this article who was also assaulted this weekend in Columbia Heights in the same violent and senseless way. So while we may not panic, I would hesitate to characterize this as the normal way things operate in the city. I would imagine the police could let us know if this is a higher rate of assaults (without any perceived reason or motivation beyond simply wanting to assault someone).

      There may be no need to panic, but it harder to protect yourself when you don’t really know why you are being targeted other than simply being there. We learn to be careful with our devices and what not, but one of the victims was on her bike. I mean, who anticipates that?

      • justinbc

        A similar thing happened to my girlfriend’s coworker just a few weeks ago, inside the Columbia Heights metro station. He was down there by himself, after a night of drinking at the bars, and two girls approached him asking for money. While he was telling them no someone came up from behind and clocked him in one hit. The next thing he remembered was waking up on a stretcher in an ambulance.

  • justinbc

    Agreed, no need to incite panic over something that’s barely different than what’s already happening in our area. On an unrelated note, that’s a great picture, and after clicking through to his photostream he does some great work, thanks for highlight it!

    • I was so weirded out when I saw myself in this picture under it’s title. Anyway, I will pass on your praises to my boyfriend, the photographer. He does take some great ones!

  • Yea, i saw the report by WaPO

    imo it all starts with awareness
    can it always be avoided… no

    but cut down on chanches and be all the way aware
    hell, im a 6’7 male so im sure that helps but believe i always stay as aware as i can of my surroundings

    pay attention people

    • Not sure if you noticed, but one of the victims was a girl on her bike. I can’t imagine most people would think to be wary of being punched in the face for no reason while riding your bike through your own neighborhood. Being aware is not useful when you must walk from the Metro or bus home. And it seems these kids are traveling in herds. Not sure what exactly one can do to protect themself in the ordinary course of their lives. It certainly starts with awareness, but being aware of your surroundings is not usually helpful when you’re dealing with multiple assailants. By the time you’re aware, it’s likely too late to do much.

      • “Not sure what exactly one can do to protect themself in the ordinary course of their lives.”
        If you see a herd of kids you can steer clear. That’s one thing you can do.

      • A friend of mine was assaulted while riding his bike between North Capitol and Union Station. It has happened to several of his co-workers. Same MO – group of kids, one runs out and clocks the rider. He got away with a fat lip and a bloody nose. On the bright side, I guess he won the game.

        • I also have a friend who was assaulted in that area by angry kids with no intention of stealing anything. While riding, he was hit in the face with a stick, knocked off his bike, attacked and then they ran away.

      • You avoid large groups of teens. what do you mean lol

        same way if you are on the trail (forget the name right now… the one that starts around union station) and see a group of 5 teens just standing around on the trail hop off the trail and get back on it further up
        should it be this way… of course not but you can take measurments to lessen the chance of danger

        & for the woman on the bike, it was right outside of garfield terrace i believe. eyes should STAY peeled back when on that strip of 11th st. i dont care if you are walking, jogging, on a bike or motorcycle… etc.

        im sorry but you just dont have the luxury of being oblivious to your surroundings in DC
        all of this coming from soneone who is from here… be aware people. ike i said, isnt 100% but it will cut down on opportunity

        • justinbc

          Not being oblivious would require people not being constantly glued to their cellphone screen.

        • The problem here is that it’s completely random. They aren’t targeting people who aren’t “aware” of their surroundings. The people reporting these crimes are saying “I saw them, and then it just happened.” Yes, be aware, of course. But, in this instance, it doesn’t seem that this is going to be very effective as a deterrent.

          • brookland_rez

            Perhaps, but I guarantee that if they got a choice between a big dude that looks like he works out a lot, covered in tattoos or a female glued to her cell phone, they’re going to choose the latter. Punks like that look for easy targets.

        • brookland_rez

          Yeah, you have to do what you can to mitigate the risks. You can’t completely eliminate the chances of something happening, but there a ton you can do to minimize the chances. You have to keep a 360 degree perspective on your surroundings at all times. I’m used to doing that from years riding motorcycles.

  • How can this sort of activity NOT create an opposing vigilante, or at least, armed response, movement? I’ve heard folks talking about the maximum size knife they’re allowed to carry in DC after discussing this “knock out game”.

  • I get the don’t freak out sentiment, but I do think this trend could be really startling. If you see some of the videos shown on the news, there is just no way that anyone could know this is about to happen. Really hoping it doesn’t catch on in DC.

    • Prince Of Petworth

      Yes, and MPD mentioned this as well, those videos being shown on TV are not from DC.

      • yes, but these things are absolutely viral – you don’t think kids watch youtube? most of the cases i’ve heard of involve out-of-the-blue attacks where the only way to avoid contact would have been to immediately cross the street or turn around at the sight of a group of (black) youth. and that’s an untenable recommendation in most circumstances for an urban dweller for a host of reasons that seem too obvious to mention.

  • This will probably end up being like the don’t-flash-your-headlights-at-oncomng-cars-gang-initiation myth a decade or so ago.

  • Thanks for keeping things in perspective, Dan. These are terrible assaults and there really isn’t much anyone can do to avoid senseless random violence; but if you are smart and aware, you can hopefully avoid the far more likely muggings and robberies.

    • “Hopefully”– Great! I’ll remember that next time someone attacks me or anyone else. Maybe your perspective is different from the next person’s. It’s not my job to “avoid senseless random violence”– seriously, how can ANYONE do that, exactly? It’s the city’s job to crack down and attempt to prevent these incidents through stepped-up policing and enforcement. “If you are smart and aware”— yeah, all of those people who get attacked for no reason are stupid and have their head in the clouds, obvi. Wow.

      • The issue is that the cops can’t be everywhere at all times. So we have to do whatever we can to lessen the chances of becoming a target. That may mean taking different routes home, being aware of surroundings, and/or not traveling alone at night.
        Unless, of course, you’re willing to pay more in taxes to hire more police.

        • I’m willing to pay more in taxes for better schools, better support for the poor, and lastly, more police. Turning this city into a veritable police state is not a solution.

          If the city can’t help these folks, and their parents refuse to do it, then I’m not sure what the answer is. More gentrification perhaps?

          • The projects and other forms of low income housing are not going anywhere. Gentrification isn’t going to solve anything when it comes to public housing. The bad elements in private housing have mostly been priced out.
            That’s why I shake my head when people plunk down $800K for a townhouse in Columbia Heights – the crime isn’t going away. It’s there to stay, unless you’re willing to sink to an inhuman level and forcefully relocate people.

          • We already pay enough in taxes. I know I’ve paid my fair share in the time I’ve lived here. It’s not an issue of money, but rather how the District is/isn’t using its resources.

            It seems that, for the first time in decades, the highly-educated, diverse populace that once breezed through the District for an internship or a starter career is actually investing in DC’s future via home ownership, voter participation, small business growth, etc. and demanding better public services and a higher quality of life. I envision a brighter future for DC and while my partner and I don’t have the money to buy a home here, we’ve considered staying indefinitely. Unfortunately, it seems this demand for a higher quality of life crosses into entitlement territory and is also why PoP threads like these often devolve into complicated race and/or class discussions. That said, it is absolutely fair and reasonable to expect to walk in your neighborhood without fear of bodily harm or loss of personal property.

            I do my best to keep a low profile (simple clothing, no expensive accessories, travel light with no electronics in sight) and remain alert when I’m out and about in the neighborhood, but I’ve learned that can only go so far. The one time I was affected by crime (non-violent…my wallet was lifted from my coat pocket at an 11th Street establishment about 5 years ago), the doorman apprehended the suspect, who told me in not so many words that I looked like I “had coins” and thus could afford the inconvenience of replacing my wallet and its contents. There was nothing flashy about my appearance, so this left me with the conclusion that looking (or not looking) a certain way could motivate someone to act out against me despite any preventive action taken on my behalf.

            DC may be changing and gentrifying (for better and for worse), but it will take decades for the dust to settle, if at all. There are no easy answers to DC’s problems, though a good first step would be to vote out those associated with DC’s
            legacy of corrupt and ineffective government
            and increase community involvement. Talk to your neighbors. Show up at neighborhood meetings (like the meeting tomorrow night on Park Rd. mentioned elsewhere in the comments).

          • The word gentrification is as overused as yuppies. Enough! Demographics change, plain and simple. In DC it seems once an area “improves” it becomes prone to more, if not a different, type of crime.

  • I’m not quite sure how “being aware of one’s surroundings” would really help at all with these types of assaults.

    Unless of course by being “aware” you mean to look out for, and then avoid, large groups of urban youths?

    What exactly did these victims do that made them more vulnerable to an attack? We hear about people who space out with their headphones and iPods and then get mugged, but these here crimes have no apparent motive. I’m not sure what amount of preparedness or awareness will solve them.

    • “Unless of course by being “aware” you mean to look out for, and then avoid, large groups of urban youths?”
      I think that’s exactly what it means. Not too hard to figure out.

    • I think this is a case of “when you hear hoofbeats, think horse not zebra.” The sad truth is that you are statistically far more likely to be mugged or assaulted for financial reasons than as part of some “knockout game”…you can’t be 100% safe, but you can do what you can to avoid being a victim and ackowledge that some violence comes with living in a populated area.

      • where did you get your statistics?

        • Let’s look at the facts:
          -Many confirmed robberies and muggings
          -Not a single confirmed assault related to “the knockout game”

          I’m betting his statement that you are statistically more likely to be robbed than assaulted as part of this game is based on his belief that many > none.

    • I think you have put your finger on why this is so troubling to everyone. Even if you practice good awareness on the street, someone can still run up behind you before you notice them. We are all going to have to up our game on awareness for sure.

    • justinbc

      What’s an “urban youth” and how does one distinguish them from a “suburban youth” or “rural youth”?

      • Um, they live in the city as opposed to the suburbs or the boonies? Or are you trying to tease out thinly-veiled racism or something like that?

      • you find “urban youths” in a city, whereas “suburban youths” are in the suburbs and “rural youths” are in the country. any other questions?

        • justinbc

          That would be a perfectly fine answer, if those groups of people only stayed in that one location ever.

          • In general, they do. I grew up in a rural area and I never drove three hours to the city with my friends after school to hang out. Don’t be dense.

          • Those farm kids are taking over DC streets and violently attacking people, what with their pitchforks and whatnot.

          • “In general, they do. I grew up in a rural area and I never drove three hours to the city with my friends after school to hang out. Don’t be dense.”

            Many offenders travel from the suburbs specifically to commit crimes here.

          • Example??

    • That’s certainly what I do. There were a group of the typical “urban youth’s” sitting on the front steps of a house on my col hts street a few weeks back, very shortly after I passed I saw a dc alert tweet about an assault at that very spot. Just saying… Glad I crossed the street.

      At the same time, I can’t believe how many people I see with headphones in, head down, and bright shiny phone held loosely in hand. COMMON! Put your phone away, take out your headphones, and be attentive!

    • This + grow eyes on the back of your head, natch! People have such a tendency to imagine that crime victims could have/should have done more. Makes it easier to think it can’t happen to us.

  • Anyone caught doing this should be charged with a hate crime.

    • Lighten up, Francis. These morons are doing it to people of all ethnicities.
      The news channels just keep showing the black-on-white incidents because they know that’s what drives the ratings frenzy and get the white folk to share the links on Facebook.

      • No doubt the media likes fear and hype and I don’t think these are racially motivated. But, are you arguing this is just some selective media hype to pander to white biases about black crime?

        If there were multiple videos of packs of white people beating up innocent black victims do you think this would be hyped in the media as a racial issue?

        • “But, are you arguing this is just some selective media hype to pander to white biases about black crime?”

          Yeah, pretty much. I guarantee the Knockout kids are doing this A LOT more frequently to other blacks, than to whites. But you’re certainly not going to hear about it in the news. And it won’t get the yuppie Caucasians of DC up-in-arms and hyperventilating about it.
          Crime stats show that the vast majority (like 80%+) is committed among members of the same race. If it was possible to get reliable stats, I’m sure we’d see that the Knockout game has a similar ethnic breakdown.

          • justinbc

            White people aren’t the only affluent ones in DC. If it’s affecting other races then they have just as much right to be pissed off and vocal about it as well (and very likely are).

          • If there were videos of white people beating innocent black people would the media hype it up as a racial issue?

            Do you believe this is part of a general media hype toward issues with a racial element or evidence of an explicit anti-AA racial bias by the media?

            I have no doubt the coverage is really over the top, as it is with most crime stories. But, personally I’m not sure that the attacks or the coverage is racially motivated.

          • how can you guarantee that?

          • “how can you guarantee that?”

            Intelligence? Basic understanding of how the world works?

        • “are you arguing this is just some selective media hype to pander to white biases about black crime?”

          Yeah. It’s called guaranteed ratings/hits on the web.

      • It’s black kids targeting white people (and in New York, jews.) If it was white kids targeting black people, it would be all over the news as a horrible epidemic of racist crime.

  • I saw this happen in Mt Pleasant – a group of young teens on bikes riding the wrong way on 17th St just north of Park Rd. One hit a woman on a bike, a man walking down the sidewalk was also hit. He said something, the teens circled back around and hit him again. Teens then rode off down Mt Pleasant St. I called the police – also posted in Mt Pleasant Forum.

  • Strongly disagree, PoP. First of all, a swift and effective response by the authorities and increased safety/monitoring/police presence or ANY kind of indication that officials in this city take these sorts of incidents seriously and as the menace they are– well, then I would not be swearing off walking in Columbia Heights alone along with similar areas (I’ve been clipped by bike hooligans in the recent past while walking down U St. near 13th). You say “keep things in perspective”– ok, here’s my perspective: I am 38 weeks pregnant, relatively affluent and a young woman. People cannot tell I am pregnant if they see me from behind. I move slowly. In other words, I am an easy target and especially vulnerable. I am excessively aware of my surroundings (not that someone who wears an iPod while walking down the street deserves to be hit in the back of the head by some asshole, but I’ve never understood people who disconnect themselves from their surroundings in public). How, exactly, am I supposed to keep something like this from happening to me short of not walking down the street? What about women who are pregnant but not visibly so? People with small children? Small children themselves? The elderly? The disabled? Anyone who cannot scuttle out of the way to make way for the roving band of miscreants barreling toward them on a bike? Why the f*** should _I_ have to alter my ways to make room for THEM? Read your site several times a day and appreciate all the info you provide; think you are waaaaaaaaaay off on this one. Should we be in hysterics? Of course not– hysteria is utterly unhelpful. Should we expect small-town levels of violence when living in a major city and urban center? No, that would be silly and unrealistic. But, alarmed and pissed off by these incidents, as well as the many, many others that you mentioned have happened through the years? Hell yes. As far as I’m concerned it comes down to my safety, the safety of my children/friends/family/loved and ones/fellow citizens and finally the fact that the response from city authorities is PATHETIC. All of us who live in this city and don’t randomly assault, rob, beat up, etc. other people deserve better, and definitely deserve to be able to walk down the street in front of Target without getting clocked in the back of the head. What might be useful is if an effort were organized to pressure city leaders to DO SOMETHING. Maybe if I weren’t about to give birth, I could take this on. I sure wish someone would.

    • Tl;dr – “Won’t someone think of the children?!?!”

      • I would also like to live in a crime-free utopia, but get real here. It’s easy to say that city officials and the police should fix this issue, but it’s much more complicated than that. Let’s play out your suggestion: we get organized and demand more from the city and they increase the police presence 300%. Where do they station the police? That’s still not enough officers to cover 10% of the city at a time. And how do they crack down and investigate crimes that happen instantly and randomly?

        • “Let’s play out your suggestion: we get organized and demand more from the city and they increase the police presence 300%. Where do they station the police? That’s still not enough officers to cover 10% of the city at a time. And how do they crack down and investigate crimes that happen instantly and randomly?”

          Alternatively, it would be nice if the police officers we do have stationed already would act. I’m thinking of the plethora of cops and police cars stationed along 14th St. near DCUSA that don’t actually enforce anything at all.

      • Phew, thanks for the summary!

      • The baby card.

    • Agreed , Council should pass tougher laws and really address the youth violence problem in this city, the kids know they can get away with just about anything and it shows…..

      • And where is the money going to come from to magically pay for all this?
        People have all these wonderful ideas to end the scourge of crime committed by the urban poor but no one actually wants to put their money where their mouth is (or take the time work to work with poor youth before they get caught up in the culture of violence).

        • justinbc

          Well, asking where the money is going to come from is a bit misleading. DC runs a large tax surplus every year, so it’s not like their coffers are empty.

      • Yes, and what exactly do “tougher laws” entail? Put them in jail for longer? They still have to get out eventually, and then what? Do you want a half way house in your neighborhood? Where’s the funding for the living facilities, social workers, etc? There’s barely enough funding to cover the programs as it is. I agree with you that it’s a problem, but I just get tired of people pretending like it’s a simple or easy thing to address.

    • Prince Of Petworth

      I think you should read my post again. I’m not disagreeing with you. I have also walked around DC including much of Columbia Heights for approximately 12 hours since Sunday and I have not been the victim of a knockout assault, or an assault of any kind. I will also repeat what I said above, “I do think we need to continue to demand more from our leaders – a modicum of “safety” on our streets so we are free to walk or bike without fear of assault be it from a “knockout game” or traditional mugging.”

    • It’s worth fighting through jadedness to experince anew the outrage that should come from incidents of violence like this.

  • This happened to a friend of min on H St. last year. She was walking home from the bus, it wasn’t terribly late, she wasn’t listening to music or anything, and she saw the kids that did it. She crossed the street a few times to avoid them, picked up her pace, and they just kept following her. Eventually one girl came up, punched her, and they took off. Left her with a nasty black eye. She knew something was coming, but there really wasn’t anything she could do about it. It just happened.

    • Wait, are you saying someone was aware of their surroundings, made attempts to avoid the group of kids, and somehow was still a victim of assault? Well I guess this blows out the water all of the idiots above who think if you look around, this could never happen to you.

      • “As we’ve discussed hundreds of times there is no way to be 100% immune to violent crime, like this or more traditional muggings, but practicing “street smarts” can help.”

        Can you please show me where he said that being aware of your surroundings is enough to prevent you from becoming a victim of crime? I think people are seriously overreacting to this post.

      • Except no one above said that, so no blowing out of the water here I’m afraid. Ooops.

  • We need beat cops. Simple as that. Cops that get off their fat butts and walk up and down the blocks of DC. New York does it. Why not?

    • “We need beat cops. Simple as that. Cops that get off their fat butts and walk up and down the blocks of DC. New York does it. Why not?”

      Agreed 100%. And the cops who do walk up and down can start enforcing the “lesser” issues of dangerous jaywalking, dangerous speeding (people who zoom down Euclid at 45 MPH) and repeat loitering.

      • Loitering isn’t illegal in DC. Cops can’t do squat about it.
        Go to the city council if you want to change the law. Jim Graham already tried, but it didn’t go anywhere. Good luck!

        • I’d say if we want to nip at least some of these youth violence crimes in the a** then starting with loitering and giving a way for police to get these morons off the street would be a great start. Boredome leads to a lot of these crimes. It’s more than that though of course, you might argue better parenting or having somewhere for them to go and be constructive.

          • Off the street to where, exactly? Teenagers are going to hang out somewhere. Even if you could somehow outlaw them from one area, they’d just move to another. Then what? Just ban teenagers from hanging out in public spaces?

          • Loitering laws always run into problems of constitutionality. It seems intuitively obvious that it can’t be against the law to simply exist in public without an expressed commercial purpose in the United States.

    • Absolutely agree. Cops who get to know residents (those with homes and those with nothing but a doorway to call home), and business owners. You wouldn’t even need that many. There are a few stand-out areas that need this kind of policing; 14th Street from Columbia to Spring, and Gallery Place come to mind.

      • The police to some degree have been trying to do this more in Gallery Place. I see them watching the kids who hang out on the steps of the museums there and will grab them as soon as one jaywalks across the street.

        But then of course you have people yelling racism and profiling.

    • And if I were Lanier, I would not allow them to bring their personal phones with them while on duty. The cops do see usually have their noses buried in their phones rather than watching what’s going on around them.

      • i’ve called cops personal cell phones when i’ve witnessed crimes in action.
        many give their numbers out to neighbors because 911 is so fucked up.

    • I wholeheartedly agree. I see cops lounging in front of LeCaprice every morning. Why a couple of cops can’t be posted near the Metro in the evenings I don’t know.

  • THIS. It’s why people have been moving to the suburbs once their kids reach kindergarten age for the previous several decades. If you can’t afford private school or a house west of the park, good luck. You’ll need it.

    • we can’t all do that. but thanks for being helpful and reminding us what shitty lives we have.

      • So what’s your plan? Hope to get into a charter school? What if that doesn’t work out? Not everyone get to go to Wilson. And that’s when sh#t is going to get real for District parents.
        Most Capitol Hill kids wouldn’t last a week in Eastern High School without some pretty severe trauma (physical or otherwise).

        • don’t worry your pretty little head about what other peoples plans are.

        • Is Eastern High School really that terrible? I live across the street from there. Two girls got in a huge fight in the alley behind our house a few weeks ago, ripped out each other’s hair and fucked up my roommates’ car in the process, but other than that I never notice those students doing anything too unsettling.

        • justinbc

          My middle school and high school both had fights on pretty much a daily basis. Sometimes kids that were in gangs got shot and killed. One year the National Guard had to come because of repeated riots. But most everyone else survived, and many live very successful lives now. Just because your elementary doesn’t write in fancy sparkly ink doesn’t mean you can’t get by, regardless of your race.

        • “Is Eastern High School really that terrible?”
          I wouldn’t want to be a Capitol Hill white kid in Eastern High School. Or most DC public high schools. You’re going have a very rough time of it. Between behavioral issues, distracted teachers dealing with unruly kids, bullying, fighting, etc – it’s pretty bad. It’s not an environment conducive to learning and getting prepared for university-level work.
          Yes, some kids with thrive. But DC has a high school graduation rate just slightly above 50%. You want to send your kid into that environment? A lot of the “new” District parents are in for a rude awakening once their kid(s) hit 13 years old.

        • “I wouldn’t want to be a Capitol Hill white kid in Eastern High School.”
          Meanwhile the black kids have a safe experience with excellent schooling? LOL, no I got what you meant (they don’t matter).

        • Yeah I just meant “Is Eastern High School really that terrible?” in the sense that the students don’t seem to loiter around the neighborhood. Sure, they hang out right in front of the school in the afternoon/early evenings but other than, it really doesn’t sound anything like what a neighborhood such as Columbia Heights deals with. I’m also not around during the school day so, I’m sure I’m not getting the full picture. The incident in the alley was the first time I had ever seen or heard of those students doing anything like that and I’ve lived in that neighborhood for 3 years. Just curious as to whether that school has a reputation that’s different from what I’ve observed.

        • “Meanwhile the black kids have a safe experience with excellent schooling? LOL, no I got what you meant (they don’t matter).”
          I think the black kids do deserve safe schools and excellent schools. But it’s got to start with the students themselves fostering that environment. The teachers can only do so much. How are good, studious kids (regardless of ethnicity) supposed to learn when there’s other kids fighting, causing distractions, and bullying others? It’s not gonna happen and everyone gets pulled down.
          People with options (aka well-off white people living on Capitol Hill) aren’t going to put their kids in that environment. That’s why they’ve been fleeing to the ‘burbs for a long time and that trend will continue even after the current baby-boom that DC is experiencing.

    • justinbc

      If you think the only good / safe neighborhoods in DC are “west of the park” then I’m glad you no longer reside here.

      • No, those are not the only safe areas. But you’re a young married guy who isn’t planning on having kids. You have the luxury of a lot more options.

      • why? because those are mostly “white” neighborhoods?

      • What is “best” is purely subjective, but for any reasonable definition of “safest,” it is a simple fact that the safest neighborhoods in DC are west of the park (and for the record I own a house east of the park).


      • “why? because those are mostly “white” neighborhoods?”
        They have the lowest crime rates, the best public schools (as measured by graduation rates and test scores), and the most expensive real estate in the District. That’s why they’re the best. It has nothing to do with race (there’s plenty of wealthy POC’s west of the park).

      • that explanation doesn’t fall in line with the Racist Police narrative.

    • I’ll do you two luminaries one better: let’s just round up these thugs and ship them to some far off land. PG County probably isn’t far enough away; maybe we can send them to an island? A camp? Blast them off into space?!?

      Help me out here, Anonymous and Anonymous. I’m not the Mensa type and I don’t seem to have the ingenious solutions that you do, but I’m open to suggestions.

      • Why is everyone ok with dumping on specifically PG county when people moved there to avoid urban crime?

      • “let’s just round up these thugs and ship them to some far off land.”

        You mean like how you rounded up their ancestors and forced them to work here for free, raped their foremothers and lynched their forefathers? Oh.

    • It’s not a crime to move out the suburbs to a) get cheaper and housing and b) get better schools. Win-win for many people.

      • I love DC as much as the next person who’s been robbed by a permanent ward of the state, but I have to agree that there’s nothing wrong with seeking a higher quality of life. This “you must stick it out in the ghetto to be a good person” crap has a slightly masochistic quality.

  • I suppose I was a victim of a similar incident in Columbia Heights this past Friday night. Biking north on 11th St., I pulled to a stop at the light at Euclid. A group of about 8 kids on bikes (age range 9-14 or so) were hanging out in the middle of the street on Euclid. A car honked at them to get out of the way, so they turned and headed south on 11th, passing me within arms reach on my left and right. They were all giggling and I tried to keep a close watch, but one of them out of my view whacked the back of my helmet as he passed. I turned and gave them a faux-amiable “Hey guys!” as they continued laughing and sped down the 11th street hill and out of sight.

    I was not in any way hurt and just shrugged it off and biked home. Kids horsing around are going to do stupid things, they always have. I figured they were just trying to get a rise out of me, without really having the intent to do harm. Only now that I’ve read there have been a spate of similar incidents in the area, including cases of more serious injury, have I reconsidered whether it would have been worth it to let the cops know. I’m still ambivalent.

    • These are probably the same “individuals” who tried to rob my friend on Euclid by knife point. My friend beat the kid that was using a dull kitchen knife.

      • Why are they probably the same “individuals”? Why the scare quotes around “individuals”? What new online-comment-section-nutcase coding is this?

      • YES i think we have a cost effective solution. Rather than having to wait to get punch by a group of kids why dont some of us adults gather together and then wander the streets punching teens in the head! A taste of their own medicine…..either that or maybe just form a neighborhood watch without the punch of teens.

        • Because it is the same area of Euclid. I’m trying to be polite and call them “individuals”. I guess I should use misguided youth,

  • back in the 90’s this was called “one punch”.
    it’s not new.

  • year round school and longer school day.

    • This. Keep the kids off the street and in the classroom/mandatory after school activities. Probably the best use of our tax dollars.
      Idle hands are the devil’s tools. Especially with DC youth.

    • I don’t know that this is necessarily the case. I live close to Cardozo High School (where several of these recent incidents have occurred) and have noticed an increase in crimes since school started this past fall around the area. During the summer months, I didn’t notice their presence as much as I do now, and I find myself much more wary about walking around this area late at night.

  • I realized that I’m late to the discussion but this started in the UK a few years ago when I lived there. You had kids who hit random people and called it “happy slapping” and would target random people. Most of the people targeted were poor and immigrants. I bbelieved they even killed an older gentleman who was out for a smoke break. Needless to say, I find none of this interesting or fun. They can always find other positive things to do than assault.

  • I was randomly punched in the face when I was walking alone on U Street by a group of young kids back in August. Not sure if it was part of this game, but they didn’t knock me out and simply kept walking in the opposite direction (i.e., no attempt to rob me). It was like 3am so I did not report it because I just wanted to get out of there, go home, and sleep.

    • same thing happened to me at 2AM on U street, except I fell and struck my head, was transported to the hospital, and ended up with several thousand dollars in medical bills. Lovely children.

  • if the fucking police took their dumb faces out of their cell phones and actually got the fuck out of their cars this would happen less. Literally in Columbia Heights i have seen drug deals go down feet away from cops. they are oblivious. I for one protect myself, try and knock me out and you will be in surgery for years.

    • I don’t care how tough you are, there is power in numbers. 10 kids v. 1 tough or trained adult is likely to lead to a victory for the kids.

  • here are some concrete steps we can take/demand:
    1) stop voting for Graham
    2) stop voting for mendlesohn
    3) demand that columbia village be rebuilt into a mixed income community and don’t elect any councilmenber or mayor who does not make that a campaign promise.

    And Im so glad I don’t live in CH anymore. too much craziness there. Park View is down right bucolic compared to that place even with recent assualts tied to Park Morton (which actually is getting rebuilt).

  • Pop, I don’t know if you caught this too, but the number of people who commented that this happened to them, or that they knew someone that this happened to, should indicate that this might be a bigger problem than let on.

    • Reminds me of the report about the crazy homeless guy randomly attacking and intimidating people in the neighborhood over the summer. When that got reported here, people came out of the woodwork to confirm with similar incidents.

      I’m sure the police have been aware of this for months but just like everything else, they tend to sweep it under the rug. Sad.

      Be safe out there everyone – walk fast, run fast and duck into public places if you fear for your safety. No need to be a hero – just be alert and don’t apologize for acting a little paranoid or trusting your instincts. Better to be safe than sorry and in the hospital.

      Remember, these punks have NOTHING to lose. They don’t care about you or your well being. They don’t care if they get arrested. They don’t care if they get caught. And they know citizens aren’t well protected. No one who abides by the law around here carries guns, knives, pepper spray, etc. Your only weapon is awareness and quick thinking.

      • You can have pepper spray, you just need to register it at the local MPD precinct. I bought some off Amazon and had it mailed to my GF’s apartment in Virgina (they won’t deliver it to DC). I carry it in the front pocket of my briefcase.

        • this is incorrect information. pepper spray is legal in DC and no registration is required. check out the ASP palm defender, just watch that wind direction! you can have it delivered straight to work or home. I myself am armed and ready for the next un-happy slapper.

        • Be careful with pepper spray. It can be easily blown back into your face and will only irritate and enrage an attacker if done wrong. For better stopping power, I suggest visiting your local Colt or Smith & Wesson dealer. There’s a reason our military doesn’t use pepper spray in combat and criminals don’t use it to rob banks.

  • Parents of these knockout gangs don’t have a clue or don’t care where their kids go @ night.

  • While I haven’t been knocked out I’ve had two incidents on my bike this fall. First time a group of teens at 7th and R NW started throwing rocks at me as I rode by. I was taken by surprise and riding pretty fast so I didn’t stop but I looked back and said “wtf” to which they just laughed. I had a welt on my arm from that one. I was lucky their aim wasn’t better. Then just today a group of teens crossing the street at 14th and Belmont as I rode down the hill jumped out towards me in an attempt to scare me I guess. Again I didn’t stop, but just yelled back at them, which illicited laughter.

    I’m lucky I haven’t been hurt yet, but this is a very real problem going on in DC. I have no idea what to do, I just know I’m getting progressively more nervous about bike commuting in this city.

  • Regardless of race, gender or age whoever is involved in such violent unprovoked attackes his/her hands should be cut off. Im sure, and I can guaranty that such attacks would stop immediately. After all few such examples would really play a big role indeterring other idiots from future “fun actions” and keep yhe law abidingcitizens safe.

  • Hope they get caught and charged with aggravated assault with intent to kill because this is what it is, it’s serious. What happens when a person who gest Knocked out dies? These criminals won’t be laughing so hard, it’s sad that our society is so very violent and bored?

  • I know that we live a city of equalists that think a gun in the hand of an off-duty security guard driving home is the same as a gun in the hand of a nine-time felon ready to knock you out, but come on people. If there was ever a wake up call for a more sensible gun policy in this city, this is it. Can one of the robo-progressives on here explain to me (using original thoughts) why I should not be able to pull a Smith &Wesson on a thug who’s about to give me a potentially fatal concussion?

    Do any of you realize that if I (a sane and law abiding citizen) pulled a gun on these thugs, I would be going to jail for about ten times longer than them? Please, defend that for me.

  • This happened to me in Mt Pleasant in April/May. I was a half a block from my house and they ran up behind me and punched me in the side of the head. It was a group of teenage girls who just laughed about the whole thing. Definitely be aware of your surroundings and I don’t think it is unfair to say, be on guard when a group of teenagers is around…it seems that they have nothing better to do these days than to punch people for fun.

  • I don’t doubt that unprovoked violence can happen anywhere at anytime. Violence is imbedded in our society. However this “Knockout Game” phenomena strikes me as a case of mass hysteria. Here a catchy phrase has been coined for what otherwise might been seen as banal. Again, there have been genuine cases of the “Knockout Game” but many reports feel hyped. What I find fascinating are the comments with their tough-guy-isms and us vs them attitudes.

    Much like the cases of child care center abuse that grabbed headlines in the 90s, this seems like a lot of pearl clutching over nothing.

  • This is one area where statistics would be helpful. Metro PD should be able to answer and publicly disclose the answer to the question: in the past few weeks, how many times has a group of teenagers punched or assaulted an individual for no apparent reason? If they can’t arrive at an approximation of that number, we need a better police force. The easiest way to quash the hysteria is to just say, in the past few weeks there were X random assaults and then say that that’s typical and not at all out of the average.

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