Some African youths 'copying US gangs'
April 16, 2008
YOUNG African refugees in Melbourne are obtaining firearms and committing violent crimes in their quest to imitate US gangsters.
Police have remarked on the gang culture after making hundreds of arrests in the southeastern suburbs. Assistant Commissioner Paul Evans confirmed the connection between street violence and gangs.
“What they do is imitate the American gang culture … because they identify with the black American gangs,” Mr Evans told The Australian.
“The clothes they wear, the rap music — you speak to them and they even talk like black Americans. But they've sort of got to realise that they live in Australia.”
Mr Evans stressed the vast majority of Sudanese and other African refugees were law-abiding citizens.
The five-month police operation led to 276 arrests and more than 280 charges. It uncovered a number of firearms including pistols and sawn-off shotguns.
Mr Evans said the work by the Sarazan Taskforce made the “majority of people feel safer in the community”.
“We still have a bit of work to do yet,” he added.
The taskforce — set up in November following the bashing death of Sudanese teenager Liep Gony — cracked down on refugees who “were causing a particular number of issues”.
“Some of these young people have got significant prior convictions and have come out here and fallen out of the mainstream society,” Mr Evans said.
He said arrests were made for robberies, armed burglaries and violent assaults.
Mr Evans's comments follow The Australian's revelations last month that Victoria Police was advising the Immigration Department to settle Sudanese refugees in country towns, following an increase in crime involving the community.
They also follow a decision last year by then immigration minister Kevin Andrews to curb the Sudanese refugee intake from 50 per cent of total refugees to 30 per cent, amid fears they were not “settling and adjusting” into Australian life.
Mr Evans said country towns were ideal for employment and education. “It causes (children) to stay within family bounds in the norms of w