A rabbi and three black leaders are calling on the public to use social media to put an end to violent knockout attacks.
The Foundation for Ethnic Understanding has produced four videos denouncing the so-called “knockout game” targeting Jews and others, as a Crown Heights councilwoman-elect took some heat over comments she made about the violence.
Activist and cable-news host Rev. Al Sharpton, president of the National Action Network, and Marc H. Morial, president and CEO of the National Urban League, joined forces with hip-hop producer Russell Simmons and the Foundation’s Rabbi Marc Schneier, in speaking out against the attacks, which have struck about 10 recent victims around Brooklyn.
The messages encourage the public to join them through social media by spreading the messages with hashtags: “End the #knockoutgame,” and “#sayNO2KOjoin the @FFEUny to end the violence +bigotry. Knockout #gameover,” including links to their videos (below).
“The Foundation for Ethnic Understanding believes that we must take every opportunity to stand united against bigotry and violence of any kind.” Simmons commented “To pick on people because they are Jewish or for any reason is unacceptable.”
Reverend Al Sharpton said “These kids are targeting innocent people, and in many cases specifically targeting Jewish folks. We would not be silent if it were the other way around, and we will not be silent now. This behavior is racist, period. And we will not tolerate it.”
(Refresh browser if videos do not appear.)
Meanwhile, Laurie Cumbo, a Democrat who was elected to succeed Letitia James in a district covering most of Crown Heights, addressed the attacks, which have occurred in the racially diverse neighborhood, in a way some saw as rationalizing them.
While calling for “zero tolerance” of the attacks, Cumbo wrote in an open letter posted on Facebook “Many African American/Caribbean residents expressed a genuine concern that as the Jewish community continues to grow, they would be pushed out by their Jewish landlords or by Jewish families looking to purchase homes.”
She added that these factors “offer possible insight as to how young African American/Caribbean teens could conceivably commit a ‘hate crime’ against a community that they know very little about.”
In earlier comments to The Jewish Week, Cumbo also cited tensions she said were created by the growth of the chasidic community. “It may be one of those things,” she told our Jonathan Mark, “that when they come home their parents are talking, ‘those damn Jews,’ not that they’re talking to the kids, but kids hear.”
Chanina Sperlin, a board member of the Crown Heights Jewish Community Council, expressed his dismay to DNAInfo.
“I think she has a lot to learn in this community. … she’s coming in on such a left foot, and she didn’t even step into the City Council yet.”