Updated 02:18 AM EST, Sat, Feb 23, 2019

'Knockout' Attack Suspect Charged With Hate Crime Says He's Not Anti-Semitic

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The man charged with a hate crime for participating in the brutal "knockout game" and knocking out a 24-year-old Jewish man said he is not anti-Semitic. 

Kensington, N.Y. resident Amrit Marajh, 28, was taken into custody after allegedly punching a Jewish man in the the face in Borough Park two weeks ago. Marajh was charged with aggravated harassment in the second degree as a hate crime, third-degree assault, and third-degree assault as a hate crime, according to Gothamist

The victim, Shmuel Perl, who was wearing a yarmulke, was walking home from work early Friday morning when he heard four of his assailants talking about the "knockout" game. He told police that they said "Yeah, I can do it! Look, I'll do it to this guy," before punching him in the face. The victim identified Marajh and three other suspects, who were all arrested yesterday. Only Marajh was charged. 

"As I'm walking on the sidewalk, the group surrounded me and one of them with a closed fist hit in me the face," Perl told told PIX 11

Marajh insists that he's innocent, and that he's not anti-Semitic because he has a Jewish girlfriend. Marajh's attorney, James Kirshner, said in court that Marajh did not participate in the "knockout" game, and that it was not ethnically biased. "My girlfriend's Jewish," Marajh said. "I never hit the guy. They try to say it's a hate crime. Why is it that I was the one arrested?"

Marajh was released yesterday on $750 bail.

There is speculation that the "knockout" assaults, in which "players" pick out unsuspecting strangers and knock them down with one sucker punch, are anti-Semitic. At least nine other Jewish individuals have been victims of "knockout" assaults in Crown Heights, Borough Park and Midwood, including a 78-year-old Midwood woman who was punched in the face in early November. The game is also believed to be racially biased because none of the suspects are caucasian, and all of the victims are white. It also goes by the name "polar bearing" because the victims are white. 

"We're trying to determine whether this is a real phenomenon," NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly said at a press conference last week. "Yes, something like this can happen, but we would like to have people come forward and give us any information they have." 

Rev. Al Sharpton condemned the attacks. "This kind of insane thuggery--there is nothing cute about that," he said at his weekly National Action Network meeting in Harlem last week. "There is no game play about knocking somebody out, and it is not a game. It is an assault and is bias, and it is wrong."

"If someone was running around talking about knocking out blacks, we would not be silent," Sharpton said Saturday. "We cannot be silent."

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