caitlin foord coppola Profile picture
Jan 9, 2018 55 tweets 15 min read Twitter logo Read on Twitter
I have covered news in Melbourne's west since 2010. If #AfricanGangs had been a thing, I may have noticed. Here are some things I have noticed.
Last month, a group of men not of African origin are alleged to have killed a man and left his brother critically injured in Braybrook…
In 2015, Con Spaliaras, Matthew David Brennan and Edward Lionel Hill chopped up Brendan David Bernard and dumped his body parts in the Maribyrnong River…
Last March, Darren Patrick Clover is alleged to have lit a fire in Footscray that killed Tanya and Zoe Elizabeth Burmeister, along with an unidentified male known as ‘Bluey’…
In August, a man not of African origin stabbed another man to death in West Footscray…
In 2015, Brittney Johnston stabbed her partner dead in Yarraville…
In 2016, three members of the LGBTIQ community were assaulted after being chased from a Footscray restaurant by men not of African origin…
Last March, groups of men not of African origin carried out a spate of homophobic attacks in Footscray Park…
In 2015, Frank Amaru assaulted two Maribyrnong councillors at a council meeting, over paid parking…
In 2016, two men of Anglo-Australian appearance viciously assaulted three victims in Braybrook…
In 2016, ice addict Deren Salih pointed a gun at a child during a home invasion in Maribyrnong…
Last January, two separate and similar incidents were reported at Highpoint, one involving Anglo-Australian teens and another involving youth who do appear to be of African origin…
In August, five female teenagers of African origin were charged following an alleged affray in West Footscray…
Maribyrnong’s overall crime rate fell 9.3 per cent in the 12 months to October, the latest available data.
Young men and women who have come from the 54 countries that make up Africa feature in some instances of the crime in the west. But the vast majority of crime, violent or otherwise, has nothing to do with them.
The sudden moral panic and the causal demonisation of a vulnerable section of the community already facing enormous hurdles would be laughable if it wasn't so dangerous.
Melbourne's west only ever exists for politicians as a political plaything and for much of the media as a source of crime porn. They will soon find their next menace and leave the local community to mop up their damage.
Meanwhile, the actual issues - family violence, homelessness, high youth unemployment, etc - will continue to underpin the actual work police, courts and the social sector will continue to have to carry out.
None of this is to downplay the impact of crime on its victims. But the frenzy happily being whipped up at the moment has nothing to do with tackling root causes of disadvantage and everything to do with point-scoring, regardless the harm to an easy, visible target.
I was walking our baby tonight and stopped at the nearest park, watching a young South Sudanese-Australian man showing his beloved the finer points of basketball. They seemed almost apologetic to be there. I'm not sure we should be doing this to them.
Thanks for dropping by. A couple of responses for those wilfully or otherwise missing the message. Of course young men of African origin are involved in crime, petty and otherwise.
Sometimes in groups. Perhaps, even, in gangs™ (because of course only Africans get free and easy with the gang tagz).
But the @withMEAA code is quite clear on this: do not place unnecessary emphasis on personal characteristics, including race, ethnicity, nationality (etc)…
This is the situation we have now reached in much reporting.
All the crimes I listed earlier were able to be carried out, reported and understood without undue emphasis on race. Yes there is fear in the community, and in some pockets of Melbourne some serious issues to address.
But one thing I have noticed since the rise and rise of local Facebook groups is people's sense of a lack of safety. Every little instance of crime or funny-looking folk in the street is suddenly brought to our attention.
Posts are either of "a couple of shifty looking guys came to my door" or "a couple of African kids were hanging around on the corner" - the former are presumably Anglo-Australian yet it's never spelt out in the first instance.
By constantly highlighting any 'African' element to any and every crime, drawn to reporting those over other similar offences, we are inch-by-inch criminalising the very act of being of African origin.
At the same time as any African diaspora association with crime is made disproportionately visible, most other achievements remain invisible, nullifying their many and varied contributions to our broader society.
So what are the outcomes of all this? The effects can be subtle yet insidious. Prior to the current storm, the African-Australian community already faced an uphill battle being accepted.
‘This is not an African hotel, this is an Australian hotel. You shouldn’t be here’.…
“They’re just a bit worried you might steal something.”…
“They are leaders at a police station, and they have not lived up to the standards expected. It’s quite clear it was inappropriate.”…
So what can people do? How can media strike a balance that both accepts and acknowledges problems within a community while avoiding stereotypes and one-dimensional fixations on the negative?
Take a moment to find out what young Australians of African origin are adding to our society. Get familiar with some of these #AfricanGangs types:
Elleni Bereded-Samuel…
@colouredtm Switching between amused and bemused at some of the responses; particularly those citing African 'over-representation' in crime who don't blink at such 'over-representation' in the volume of media/political interest or highlighting of any African element in such.
Special shoutout to those somehow inferring a call to ignore or excuse crime linked with offenders of an African origin - reminiscent of all the 'deport' & 'African scum' comments on this story about *white* offenders causing problems for African business…
We ran a story today on links between the trashing of Airbnb-listed house in Werribee and Altona, both sprayed with 'Menace To Society' tags. The final three lines from local police are worth a look…
Kudos for the mad Photoshop skillz mind you.
This is the point at which I should draw attention to my forthcoming book, as per my bio, were it not imaginary. Savvy publishers please take note:
Quick update tally on #AfricanGangs 'crisis':


Peter Dutton
Malcolm Turnbull
Matthew Guy
That 'there needs to be warning signs when you enter Victoria' guy
Blair Cottrell
Herald Sun
Ch 7
Sydney talkback radio bros
Dingo twitter

Victoria Police
Daniel Andrews
Neighbourhood Watch
Victorian Equal Opportunity & Human Rights Commission
African Australian Communities Leadership Forum
African-Australian Multicultural Employment and Youth Services (AAMEYS)
Afro-Australian Student Organisation (AASO)
AMAFHH Federation
Bishop Philip Huggins, Vicar - General Anglican Diocese of Melbourne
Asian Australian Democracy Caucus
Australasian Union of Jewish Students (AUJS)
Australian GLBTIQ Multicultural Council
Australian Intercultural Society (AIS)
B'nai B'rith Victoria
Board of Imams Victoria
Buddhist Council of Victoria (BCV)
Centre for Multicultural Youth (CMY)
Council of Christians and Jews Inc Victoria
Eritrean Jeberty Community in Australia
Ethnic Communities' Council of the South East (ECCOSE Inc)
Ethnic Communities Council of Victoria (ECCV)
Faith Communities Council of Victoria (FCCV)
Hindu Council of Australia (Victoria)
Incubate Foundation
The Interfaith Centre of Melbourne
Islamic Council of Victoria (ICV)
Islamic Shia Council Victoria
Jewish Community Council of Victoria (JCCV)
Jewish Christian Muslim Association (JCMA)
Melbourne Employment Forum
National Council of Jewish Women of Australia (Victoria) (NCJWA)
National Liaison Council of Chinese Australians
Online Hate Prevention Institute (OHPI)
Pax Christi
Polish Community Council of Victoria (PCCV)
Progressive Judaism Victoria
Sikh Interfaith Council
Stand Up
Team Africa
Emeritus Prof Gary Bouma, UNESCO
Uniting Church in Australia, Synod of Victoria and Tasmania
Uniting (Vic/Tas) Limited
Victorian Council of Churches (VCC)
Youth Activating Youth (YAY)
Australian Multicultural Foundation (AMF)
Asylum Seeker Resource Centre (ASRC)

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More from @BenjaminMillar

Apr 5, 2018
Anyone paying attention to the headlines would be acutely aware Victoria has been experiencing a rapidly escalating crime problem among #AfricanGangs in general and the Sudanese population in particular.
So I approached the Crime Statistics Agency (as anyone could if they so wished) for the most recent data on alleged offender country of origin, comparing 2016 to 2017.
You may the @CrimeStatsVic had to issue a ‘statistical clarification’ when a number of journalists and media outlets were using an incorrect figure that overstated by 40 per cent the offence rate of Sudanese-born alleged offenders…
Read 11 tweets

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