Police Crime Data based on the Skin We Are In
We the concerned members of the African community are writing in response to the article published in The Age Newspaper on 20 August 2012, entitled “African Youth Crime Concern”.
We believe that the article raises concern of racial profiling aimed at the Sudanese and Somali communities and Africans generally.
According to Mr Cartwright, Victoria Police Deputy Commissioner, “Sudanese and Somali-born Victorians are about five times more likely to commit crimes than the wider community, a trend that must be addressed to prevent Cronulla-style social unrest, police warn”.
Following this article, we have heard a lot of racially-motivated slurs and threats directed towards members of African communities particularly Sudanese and Somali and there is no doubt in our minds that the article has worked in triggering these racially motivated behaviours.
We critique the basis of Victoria Police’s remarks that have effectively labelled Africans (or Sudanese and Somali) as criminals. We emphasise that such remarks have serious social and economic implications for all members of the wider African-Australian community. As Africans, we feel victimised, racially profiled and discriminated against on the basis of our race by Victoria Police.
We question the Victoria Police Deputy Commissioner’s motives for such remarks and attribution of crime data on African youth and we do not understand why Mr Cartwright made no mention of other non-Africans youth groups (from other communities) in his media statements.
We note that Victoria Police acknowledged their data may have some inaccuracies. They stated that some people may identify themselves as Sudanese or Somali when they are not, and they also acknowledged that the data may generally be unreliable.
There is no doubt in our minds that linking crimes to ethnic groups reinforce racial stereotyping against particular community groups such as Africans. The effect of such media publications will be relieved by Africans for many years to come. We are particularly worried that young African individuals may face discriminations socially, employment wise, at public venues and modules of transports, at sporting venues, and even at educational institutions just to mention a few.
We believe that these types of media statements may further justify indiscriminate targeting of Africans youth by members of the police force on roads and in public areas. No doubt Highway Patrol Officers will have more excuses to target African youth.
We also believe that it is not good to attribute crimes to an ethnic group. There are many other individuals and groups from non-African nationalities who are serving times in prisons or who have committed worse crimes than what Mr Cartwright is attributing to Sudanese and Somali youth or Africans overall but, strangely, the Assistant Commissioner made no reference to such crime data.
We wish to remind Victoria Police that destiny is an individual choice and even if some young Africans may not be able to excel in various walks of their careers or lives in Australia, this should not lead to a systemic racial profiling. Crime data based on race has no place and should not be allowed in a Multicultural Australia.
On behalf of many African-Australians