The AgeÂ notes an attempt to remove what we’re invited to believe is institutional racism against African youths among our police:
The colleagues of police charged with producing a racist stubby holder are among the first officers being given updated cultural training designed to stamp out racial profiling.
The community encounters program, which has been mandatory for police recruits since 2009, is now being expanded toÂ train existing officers as part of Victoria Police’s push to weed racism from the force…
During one of the first sessions, held at the Visy Cares Hub in Sunshine last week, some police officers came face to face with members of the African community they had previously spoken to while on the job, including some charged with criminal offences….
Two sergeants, including one from Sunshine, who had both been in the force for at least 20 years, said they were not interested in race because they ‘’only locked up the bad guys’’.
Another officer said she ‘’completely disagreed’’ that Brimbank police had a problem with racism.
If you are wondering why some police on the course have arced up, note one of the African youths presented to them as a victim and guide:
James Makur, during his session with the sergeants, said he wanted to be spoken to respectfully when he passed police in the street. Mr Makur, a Sudanese-born 23-year-old who spent eight years in a refugee camp before arriving in Melbourne as a teenager, has been in trouble with police.
He pleaded guilty to a vicious assault in 2011 and admitted during the training to having had problems with alcohol, but now wants to study to become a youth worker.
Melbourne Magistrates Court heard that three men attacked two others in Braybrook in the early morning of April 26.
The court was told that one man was armed with a machete and a teenager was armed with a metal pole while James Makur carried a beer bottle…
Mr Livitsanos said the victims were followed by the trio and about seven other unknown African males who were armed with weapons that included golf clubs, machetes and baseball bats.
Makur assaulted one man by punching him and then smashed the beer bottle over his head, while a co accused struck another victim with a machete.
Makur also hit a car with a baseball bat.
The AgeÂ report suggests Makur had since turned a new leaf. Well, that may be so, but has he yet earned the right to lecture police about their “racism”?
There is actually a very good reason for police to be suspicious of African youths, and not just because crime rates among African immigrants is much higher than the community average.
Indeed,Â Victoria’s Supreme Court put it well last weekÂ in discussing applications from four offenders, one another Sudanese refugee:
120 Mr Mawn is aged 21 years and 7 months. He has been on remand at the Melbourne Assessment Prison since 4 December 2013… The applicant left his home in South Sudan in 2002. He spent time in a refugee camp in Egypt before coming to Australia as a refugee in 2005. He lives with his mother, two brothers and five sisters in the family home. The applicant also has the support of his father, although he does not live with the rest of the family. The applicant has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and struggles with alcohol abuse. He also has limited formal education and speaks barely-functional English.
Already you may well wonder. Did our politicians and immigration officials wonder how a then teenager with those disabilities might struggle to fit in here?
Sure enough, he didn’t:
123 The applicant has been charged with one count of robbery, two counts of intentionally causing injury, two counts of recklessly causing injury, three counts of assault, one count of assault with intent to rob and one count of stealing…
124 The charges arise out of two separate incidents occurring in Sunshine on 4 December 2013. The applicant was severely affected by alcohol during both incidents. The first occurred during the late afternoon outside the Brimbank Library in Sunshine. The applicant and a co-accused approached the victim and allegedly demanded cigarettes from him. The victim insisted that he did not smoke. While the victim was not looking, the applicant punched him in the head. The victim fell to the ground where the applicant stomped on his head. The victim tried to get up but the applicant kicked him in the head a further three times, knocking him unconscious… Whilst the victim was on the ground, the applicant rummaged through his pockets and removed a wallet and a mobile phone. The applicant and co-accused then left the scene….
125 A short time after the first incident police were patrolling the area looking for the applicant. They observed the applicant and two co-accused punching a man to the head outside 240 Hampshire Road, Sunshine. They had allegedly asked the victim for cigarettes and money. The applicant then ‘patted’ the victim’s rear trouser pocket, looking for the victim’s wallet. When the victim pushed the applicant’s hands away, the applicant punched him in the head and kicked him in the stomach.
Those were not his first assaults:
127 At the time of his alleged offending the applicant was, and still is, subject to a 18-month community corrections order. That order was imposed by a magistrate in May 2013 after the applicant was found guilty of charges similar to those he is facing now.
Here is the relevant part of the judge’s findings – advanced in this instance to explain why he’s being lenient in granting bail:
The applicant’s offending is related to his refugee background, social circumstances and alcohol dependence. As a young refugee with very limited education and English language skills, he is highly vulnerable. On the evidence, he is confronting the challenges of his past and immigration to Australia.
But let’s turn this around. If a Sudanese refugee’s background is “related” to his offending and he is “highly vulnerable” to crime because of his “very limited education and English language skills”, why was he allowed in? Didn’t bringing him into Australia make him an unacceptable risk to Australian citizens, several of whom have now paid for that decision by being bashed and terrorised?
Is our refugee program fair to Australians? And is it fair to police to hector them about racism when they have to deal with the consequences?