For the first time, President Barack Obama’s Justice Department charged someone caught playing the “knockout” game with a hate crime under the federal Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act.
That person, 27-year-old Conrad Alvin Barrett (pictured), is a white man who allegedly attacked a 79-year-old black man in Texas on November 24. Perpetrators of the “knockout” game have mostly been black and victims have usually been whites, Jews, or Asians. However, the Justice Department decided to make an example of Barrett, who, according to the complaint, reportedly took a week to work up the courage to play the “knockout” game and then videotaped the assault because he wanted to see if he would get on national television if he “were to hit a black person.”
“Hate crimes tear at the fabric of entire communities,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Samuels. “As always, the Civil Rights Division will work with our federal and state law enforcement partners to ensure that hate crimes are identified and prosecuted, and that justice is done.”
The Justice Department describes the “knockout game” as “an assault in which an assailant aims to knock out an unsuspecting victim with one punch.”
According to the Justice Department and the FBI, “Barrett allegedly hit the man with such force that the man immediately fell to the ground.” He then “laughed and said ‘knockout’ as he ran to his vehicle and fled.” The victim “suffered two jaw fractures and was hospitalized for several days as a result of the attack.”
Barrett faces a statutory maximum of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine if convicted.
“Suspected crimes of this nature will simply not be tolerated,” said U.S. Attorney Magidson in a statement. “Evidence of hate crimes will be vigorously investigated and prosecuted with the assistance of all our partners to the fullest extent of the law.”
Last month, New York authorities charged Amrit Marajh with two hate crimes on the state level for playing the “knockout game” against a Jew, but the Obama administration has not charged Marajh–or the other alleged “knockout” game perpetrators except for Barrett–under the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Hate Crimes Prevention Act.