Innocent people shouldn’t fear walking down the street, whatever their faith—and everyone must push back against the madness
By Rev. Al Sharpton for Tablet Magazine
Because I am a preacher and an advocate for civil rights, my life’s work has centered on the notion of equality and justice for all. Whether it’s fighting on behalf of victims of police brutality, pushing for immigration reform, or simply highlighting inequity, I firmly believe that we only progress forward when we unite across racial, ethnic, and religious lines in our efforts to right serious wrongs.
Humanity calls upon all of us to put aside our own personal identities and speak up when we witness deplorable incidents. Such a moment is once again before us, and this time the victims appear to be members of the Jewish community. I stand with them in strongly condemning the outrageous behavior referred to as “knockout games”—in which an attacker or attackers attempt to knock out an unsuspecting person with a single sucker punch. It’s not a joke, it’s not a game, and nobody is laughing.
In recent weeks, authorities have reported a rise in “knockout” incidents in areas around the country. Innocent folks have been struck while simply walking down the street, including a 78-year-old Jewish woman in Brooklyn last month. There simply aren’t enough adjectives to describe how despicable and reprehensible this behavior is. Anyone who would punch an elderly woman deserves no mercy in a court of law. While these cases are all horrific and inexcusable, there appears to be another troubling element in many of the attacks, especially in my home city of New York: Like the elderly woman, many of the reported victims have been Jewish. Police maintain that they cannot definitively conclude a pattern of biased behavior yet, but we—those who work diligently against racism and discrimination—can and must speak out now.