Acts of brutal, random violence gain popularity in mainstream media across the country and right here in Illinois. They're part of what some call the knockout game.
You're probably hearing the term knockout game more and more where people are randomly picked and beaten with a blow to the head, but one Rockford area expert dates this so-called game back to the early 1990's. Since then the rules have changed.
"What's unique now to this generation is they're actually recording their vicious assault on someone who they deem is weaker than them. Then, posting that for the satisfaction of other people who enjoy the sadisticness of it." -says clinical psychologist Dr. Terrance Lichtenwald.
This week, a federal court denies bond for Conrad Barrett of Texas, after last month's attack on a 79 year-old man. National reports say Barrett was taking part in the "knockout game." Rockford area clinical psychologist Dr. Lichtenwald sees similarities in the game's victims.
"By looking at groups you see that ladies get targeted from behind. Elderly get targeted." -he says.
Those attacked are unsuspecting and seen as weak.
"And that type of attack is associated with people who are cowards. I didn't see any cases where there's like a group of marines standing at a bus stop and so they go up to the marine and punch that marine in the group in the head, just to see how it's going to go. That has not been documented." -Dr. Lichtenwald explains.
U.S. attorneys say Barrett was intentionally looking for an African American victim. They're charging him with a hate crime. Similar cases have been reported in Chicago. Some Illinois lawmakers are trying to toughen up penalties against attackers.
"We're not going to prevent every issue but we want to give law enforcement the proper avenue in order to properly enforce the law and make the penalty more severe." -says 69th District State Representative Joe Sosnowski.
35th District State Senator Dave Syverson says, "We need prosecutors and the courts to get tougher with the existing laws as well, not just passing new laws that don't get used."
Proposed state legislation would let prosecutors charge a Class 2 Felony for knockout game brutality, punishable by three to seven years behind bars.
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