Federal Prosecutors Charge White Man With Hate Crime After “Knockout” Game

conrad-alvin-barrett.jpg.siThe Justice Department has decided to charge Conrad Alvin Barrett, 27, with a hate crime in the “knockout game”-style attack against a black victim in Katy, Texas. The victim was a 79-year-old black man. The prosecution — and heavy punishment — of Barrett is clearly warranted if found guilty of the attack. However, the intervention of the Obama Administration is being questioned and is likely to add to preexisting concerns over the use of hate crimes to federalize state criminal actions and the standard for such prosecutions.


Notably, the federal charge could bring a higher sentence. However, this is a crime that could easily have been brought on the state level with an aggravator or separate charge for the abuse of the elderly. This elderly man lost three teeth and needed surgery to repair his jaw. At 79 years old, he could have easily died in this vicious attack. The knockout game has spread across the country and represents a terrible threat for everyone. These sucker punches often result in people hitting the ground unconscious and risking a serious or fatal head injury beyond the punch itself. Prosecutors and police across the country are ramping up efforts to combat the game. Most of these games take people at random regardless of age or gender, though I have been many elderly and women targeted (presumably because of the greater likelihood of a “knockout”).

One issue potentially complicating this case is that Barrett has a proven history of mental illness (as a bipolar individual) as well as a history of alcoholism.

20131228-knockout-gameThe video of the attack shows Barrett approach the victim and ask, “How’s it going, man?” He then hits the man and laughs and says, “Knockout.”

When police examined his phone, they found videos where he used racial epithets and expressed in interest in the knockout game. In the one that seems the basis for the federal charge, he reportedly states “That plan is to see if I were to hit a black person, would this be nationally televised?”

U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson says that that is a hate crime and therefore a federal matter.
A conviction under the federal hate crimes statute would mean a maximum 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Various critics have charged that there have been a slew of black on white crimes, including a number of knockout games where the race of the victim is referenced by the attackers.

Many have questioned the use of the hate crimes law to federalize state crimes, often giving prosecutors a second bite at conviction following acquittals of defendants. Such arguments do not mean that the racial element should be ignored. Rather, such elements can be used as an aggravator to increase sentences by the state court. If hate crimes are federalized, there remains the question on the standard to apply and whether it applies consistently in cases where race is referenced. The statement above does indicate an intent to target a victim on the basis of race — putting aside the mental illness issue. However, the evidence also suggests that this man wanted to play this disgusting game.

We have previously discussed how hate crimes have raised free speech issues (here and here and here) which is not an issue in this case. However, we have also discussed the uncertain standard for such prosecutions in past cases (here). I would have the same concerns about charging black teenagers with crimes when they say that they targeted a “white bitch” this year in Chicago. Racial references are unfortunately ubiquitous in this country. The question is whether such cases should be federalized and what standard applies to crimes with a racial reference.

Do you think that this case should be tried as a hate crime by the feds or left as an assault at the state level?

41 thoughts on “Federal Prosecutors Charge White Man With Hate Crime After “Knockout” Game”

  1. NAAWP MAY 2014 CRIME NEWS UPDATE: black teenagers charged with videotaping hate crime assaults

    Three Allentown high school students have been charged with ethnic intimidation for allegedly recording themselves bullying other students and posting the resulting “smack cam video” on Facebook.

    The three males – two aged 15 and one aged 14 – are accused of selecting the victims, in part, because they are white, according to a news release from Lehigh County District Attorney James Martin.

    The incident took place around 1 p.m. last Thursday at William Allen High School, an affidavit of probable cause states.

    Three teens were sitting at a table in the school cafeteria when three other teens allegedly approached and started making comments. Prosecutors said the teens used profanities to mock the other students’ race, stature and appearance, such as the glasses they were wearing.

    The suspects used the racial slur “pink” in referring to the white victims, according to investigators.

    Two of the teens allegedly decided to make a “smack cam video.” Investigators said one of them began narrating and using his cell phone to record the video, which he called “Smack Cam 3.”

    Prosecutors said a third teen walked over to the table and slapped one of the victims in the back of the head as the other two suspects erupted in laughter.

    Learn more: http://topconservativenews.com/2014/05/three-black-teenagers-charged-with-videotaping-hate-crime-assaults/

    FORCED INTERGRATION has led to the BANKRUPSY of nearly every major CITY in AMERICA!

    Things have gotten so horrible in St. Louis, Cleveland, Philly, Brooklyn, Chicago, Baltimore, Atlanta, Memphis, etc . …., that INNER-CITY PUBLIC SCHOOL THUGS are now being BUSSED to the suburbs and the suburban SCHOOLS are being FORCED by the STATE and FEDERAL GOVERNMENT to accept these BLACK STUDENTS with OPEN ARMS!

    “The NAAWP yells BULL$HYT and screams STOP DA BUS!” (TRAINAISM)

    FACT: “WHITE FRIGHT is the PRECUSOR to WHITE FLIGHT!” (TRAINAISM)

    NATIONAL ASSOCIATION for the ADVANCEMENT of WHITE PEOPLE

  2. It would be very sick to ONLY prosecute this as a hate crime & not the black on white also. (which appears to be in greater volume in this context) That would be a hate crime unto itself by the federal prosecution. We do know that our federal government is doing a lot of evil things lately (along with good too in some departments). But I refer to War on Terrorism, an unwinable position that has created terrorism in North Africa & Kenya; Bush Patriot Act; Obama extending it, NDA Act, US Drone use ratification, & this hate crime law could be insidious if selectively used 1984 style to CREATE racism by outraging one race against the other.

  3. Wow, this is that guy’s mug shot. He punches a 79 year old man and looks that smug about it? I am not one for violence but that jerk deserves it.

  4. It’s only rascist when a white guy does it. No doubt a response to all the black guys doing it on youtube. It is a dispicable ,cowardly act and I hope they throw away the key but the double standard in the media is really getting old. Why Obama needs to rhrow his traitorous two cents in there is beyond me , I guess he just wants to create division to help institute his New World Order agenda.
    Doctors are retiring in droves and nothing in Obamacare to teplace them. Thats how you know its just another scam like NSA spying. We either drain the swamp in 2014 or get used to the idea of being a slave.

  5. Some have wondered why the Brooklyn or other attacks haven’t been prosecuted as hate crimes by the feds. One reason might be because the offenders were teenagers.

    Federal criminal proceedure is quite lacking for juveniles and the US Code was written to essentially transfer jurisdiction, or decline jurisdiction, of juvenile committed offenses to the states.

    review Title 18 USC Section 5032 for more information.

  6. The reason for hate crime laws are to deter what in FACT is terrorism. A hate crime is intended to terrorize a target group, thus more severe and Federal prosecution is more than justified. It is our way of sending a strong message to let such folks know that they will be dealt with as the terrorists that they are. Too bad he won’t go to Gitmo since he richly deserves it.

    Since Texas has the concealed weapons permits, I think that any black person who sees this guy coming will be justified in pulling out their gun and shooting him. I live in the same area, and if I were on a jury if the shooter was prosecuted, I would not convict. It would be justifiable self defense as some folks feel that Zimmerman had that claim. I now agree with the wisdom of that verdict, so it is open season on this thug.

  7. This is not a white on black hate crime but a mental illness crime. Anybody who attacks someone else for what ever sort of thrill is mentally deficient. Angry black youths routinely target whites to ‘repay for centuries of crimes’. This is a form of mental illness or uncontrollable anger. The solution for both sides is prison and reform. In this country we imprison to the max but do next to nothing regarding reform.

    I realize that it is unAmerican to learn from successful programs that originate outside the country, state, and even county, but they do exist and the do work. The objective should be to stop the behavior, to protect the innocent citizen, to play god in fixing a broken human.

    This retard goes to prison for a number of years, joins a hate group and receives support from other mentally challenged and dangerous inmates who know how to game the system. He must spend time in prison but much more importantly he must not continue to be a threat to society. Of course, this might mean more government, less profits for the private prison industry, and not the most satisfying retribution. In other words it would be unAmerican.

  8. I hope that the 79 year old man has some offspring who will come round and cold cock that punk for knocking out an old man.

  9. Yeah, under the Constitution, States have powers. People have rights. The bigots mimic the States Rights! thing when they resent the federal government exercising its power to prosecute a Klan guy.

  10. If local prosecutors in states would prosecute KlanBoys out having fun beating up the aged N men then the hate crime statutes would not have been passed by Congress. Black guys whipping up on old white guys can be prosecuted too. Few of the commenters here today are putting this into the context of Deep South tolerance of white intolerance. I would like to know what Texas was going to do to JoeBob here before the feds stepped in. The Southern Strategy of Lee Atwater would be for the Republicons to now hype this up as a violation of “States Rights!.” What are dem feds doing comin in here and prosecuting our people for some Saturday Night Live fun?
    Yeah. States Rights. The State of Texas has a right to ignore crimes of the Klan against innocent people or crimes of the KlanWannaBees. Am I right?

  11. I understand the emotional appeal of hate crimes but I question how and when hate crime statues are applied. If assault penalties are too low lets take care of that but identifying the victim by his skin color and then deciding if this victim deserves to have his assailant prosecuted under a hate crime statue seems like a dangerous way to enforce the law.

  12. Mark Gisleson: “WHAT KNOCKOUT GAME? Surveys of major metro police depts. always get the same answers: “What are you talking about?”

    This is an invention of Fox News. Please cite the cases that represent a trend, or the actual existence of this game!”

    Tony Sidaway: “I agree with other commenters here that the problem is largely oneof media promotion of the idea that violent crime is a game of some sort. So now we’re getting copy cat attacks where criminals are presenting their actions as a game.

    And you are doing the exact same thing, explicitly referring to these attacks as a game. You should retract that as a matter of urgency.”

    I agree. This was a “game” invented by the media. I can’t find the link, but last week I was surprised to see two CNN commentators in a lengthy discussion of how the media invented this fake “knockout game.” The original “evidence” was a total of two videos, at least one of which wasn’t in the US.

    I’m not saying that horrible attacks like this don’t take place. But, considering that we have over 300 million people in the US and over seven billion people on this planet, the small number of attacks do not constitute a trend or a game. Violent nutcases are always going to be out there. Hyping these attacks as a game just invites copycats.

  13. J.D. An armed citizenry has lower crime rates than an unarmed citizenry. Alaska, Iceland (1 out of 4 are gun owners), and Switzerland are prime examples. All the mass shootings occurred in gun free zones. If these thought that they might get killed I’m sure they would think twice before Sunday punching someone.

    1. Bruce wrote: “If these thought that they might get killed I’m sure they would think twice before Sunday punching someone.”

      Yup. If open carry of a handgun was allowed, and they were about to punch a man with a holstered firearm? I don’t think so. He would think twice about it. He would go look for unarmed granny or unarmed grandpa down the road who can’t defend himself.

  14. One of the things I consider most admirable about you is how considered and thoughtful you are in arriving to conclusions and judgments, yes judgments, on a case. Despite your arguments to the contrary, there is more than enough evidence to conclude that this was a federal crime and should be charged as one.

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