The African gangs issue is driven by a political agenda

The good thing is that there is rising concern, especially in Melbourne, over the claim by certain politicians and sections of the media, that “African gangs” have made this city unsafe. It has been said  that that it is so bad, that people are too afraid to go out for a meal at night.

As someone who lives in Melbourne, gets about and knows a lot of people here, this is not our experience.

There have been some violent incidents. What city with a population of four and a half million doesn’t have them? The trouble is, when it comes from the hand of an African, it is reported as African crime. When it comes from the hand of a non-African, it is just crime. No one has presented evidence that the rate of incidence between the two is any different. Why is this happening?

One problem for the Africans is that having a different colour skin makes them stand out from the crowd. And this can tap into latent discrimination. For instance, the It did not stop this from being used to portray an image of African violence.

shot of Channel 7 beat up story

There have been other armed robberies in Melbourne committed by people from other racial and ethnic backgrounds. They do not fit into the narrative and are therefore  not treated in the same way.

When an Anglo Australian commits the crime, it is never presented as proof for the need to impose law and order on the Anglo Australian community. The same applies when there is a brawl at a pub, or when a gang of young white skinned teenagers pounce on someone.

Despite the emotive and fraudulent and unethical nature of the reporting by Channel 7 and the usual News Corp cabal, and repeated by Channel 10, politicians looking for an angle, have enthusiastically jumped on board.

Victoria Police repeatedly insisted that there is no such thing and have gone so far as to privately caution media outlets not to inflame tensions. It hasn’t made any difference. Political pressure has been so intense that the Police Commissioner has now been wheeled out for as bit of public backtracking.

Behind it, there is a political agenda to use Africans as a scapegoat, and build fear in the community. The purpose? A law and order campaign, to distract attention from unpopular policies. This cannot happen without manufacturing a villain.

Victoria will have a state election in November, and the opposition is lighting a fire to make the Labor government look like it is responsible and allowed the African gangs to “terrorise” Melbourne.

Fearing the headlines, Labor has to some extent been dragged into the campaign. This is a mistake ,and instead of diffusing it ad an election issue, has handed Labor’s opponents the initiative in calling the shots, at least on this issue.

News Corps’s Melbourne Herald Sun front page headlines its African Gangs menace story

When the opposition distributed a  distributing fear-charged leaflet at train stations in Melbourne’s multicultural south-east, featuring silhouetted (albeit clearly) Africans in hoodies, menacingly loitering with intent, the response was minimal, although this was also an attack on Labor, for allowing it to happen.

Africans in Melbourne are well aware of the discriminatory way in which they are being treated. They don’t like it and are battling to have their voice heard, and to showcase the positive contribution they make to this city and the Australian community.

This is not always so easy to do. Noble Park is one of the localities in which the leaflet was distributed. This is where, Sudanese teenager Liep Gony, was murdered in 2007, by a man “looking to kill blacks.” Channel 7, the rest of the media pack and the politicians jumping onto the present bandwagon have never turned their attention to this, and the African community knows it.

Since the campaign against so-called African gangs begun, there has been a 34 per cent spike in racist incidents in Victoria. The campaigners show little if any concern over this. Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has weighed in by publicly declaring on Tuesday, that there is a “real concern about Sudanese gangs,” rather than countering racial attacks. This is irresponsible and should not be acceptable in any society calling itself civilised.

The African gangs beat up might event serve a political agenda in the short-term. In the long-term, it will add more to the already considerable  distrust of politicians and political processes in Australia.

For young Africans, finding themselves marginalised from Australian society, the incentive is to band together for mutual support. It is they who have some reason to fear of going out at night on their own. They know they are a target.

We must tell those who seek to divide that we are one. We should not allow ourselves to be divided. If they get away with it, we all  lose.

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