The NYPD has put extra officers in a Brooklyn neighborhood where as many as eight people have been smacked or punched as part of a known trend that targets random victims, mostly white Jewish people, on the street.
Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said Wednesday that some of the attacks were being investigated as hate crimes.The suspects in the Brooklyn attacks have all been black teens, police said.
Some victims have been slapped, some have been knocked down. The assaults are not robberies.
"A phrase that is used is 'polarbearing,' or 'polar bear,'" Kelly said. "Knockout has also been used."
Kelly said all eight attacks in recent weeks have been in Brooklyn's Crown Heights neighborhood, which is home to large populations of both blacks and Jews. He also said this trend is not new to police.
"We've seen this in the past but I would like to urge anyone who has been victimized by this to come forward," he said.
Community leaders in Brooklyn have called for an end to the violence.
Victims have also reported being attacked in other eastern cities. A woman in the Columbia Heights area of DC was approached by a group of eight males on bikes last week when one reached out, punched her in the back of the head and rode away, NBC's News4 reported.