African Youth Forum

 

For Immediate Release

 

Location: Wesley Community Centre

(740 Sandringham Road Extension, Mt Roskill, Auckland 1041)

Date: 5th of March 2016

Time: 3:00pm - 6:00pm

 

African community leaders have today expressed deep disappointment with the Police response to the research report on African youth experiences with the police and justice system.

Although the Police have said that they engage with African community leaders, they have failed to engage with African youth impacted by Police actions in a meaningful manner. Marvin Kamau, one of the forum organisers, says that the perspectives of the leaders with whom Police have engaged are not representative of the experiences of African youth.

“Just as my views are not representative of all African youth, the perspectives of Gregory Fortuin and Anwar Ghani, are not representative of the lived experiences of African youth, and they are not in a position to speak on our behalf regarding the Police actions towards us”, he says.

Prominent Criminologist and Senior Lecturer, John Buttle, says that all research has limitations and is relatively easy to attack from one perspective or another. John also states that any evidence that is not favourable to the Police is often attacked as a means to silence disagreeing voices.

“Police tend to treat independent research on racial profiling as a threat and in a very conscious attempt to suppress and discredit it rather than engaging in a productive manner. Recently Commissioner Mike Bush suggested that the New Zealand Police culture had an unconscious racial bias that the Police recognise and are prepared to address. If that was the case the appropriate response would be to acknowledge this research and to listen to what is being said. It is a great shame that in doing this it would seem the so called unconscious bias is very conscious indeed”, says John Buttle.

The development of this research has been supported by a number of community leaders with whom the police claim to have a positive relationship. Below are comments from African community leaders in response to the statement put out by the Police in reference to the research on African youth and their experiences of the police and New Zealand justice system.

Kizito Essuman, President of the African Communities Forum Inc (ACOFI) says that “The outcome of the research on African youth experiences with the Police and the Justice System comes as a shock to the community. There is no doubt that over the past few years we have been working tirelessly as a community to develop positive relationships with the Police. It is very unfortunate that the positive relationship we have with the NZ Police in the boardrooms, festivals, workshops, conferences and other activities is not quite the same on our streets according to the research findings. I acknowledge and commend the hard work by our Police Officers and various community leaders but any kind of discrimination by some Police Officers should not be tolerated in our society.

Even if there is only one person coming out to share his or her experience about Police abuse on the street, one case is too many at this civilised age.  These are real stories by real people in our community and cannot be swept under the carpet. The issues or concerns raised by these young people in the research need to be addressed. This will only help build a better relationship with the Police.”

Tuwe Kudakwashe, a prominent African community leader agrees: “Although I have never been stopped by the Police in my almost 15 years in New Zealand, I have heard some heart-breaking and tear-jerking stories where our African youth have been stopped, harassed and mistreated by the Police. If these research findings are anything to go by, our respected Police, as an organisation, must do something and put their house in order. They need to live up to their organisational Values, Vision and Mission. We cannot afford to have our innocent youth being harassed, cajoled and mistreated by the authority that is required, at law, to offer an un-compromised protection. Based on the findings of this research, I would like to condemn, in the strongest terms, some of the treatment narrated and received by our African youth, from the Police.’

 

Last, but not least, I am a researcher in my own right, and I am a firm believer in professionally carried out research. I therefore have no doubt about this current research that was done by one researchers at one of New Zealand’s leading universities.”

 

Associate Professor Love Chile, African community leader and academic concludes that: “The issues raised in the report African Youth Experience with the Police and the New Zealand Justice System are very important to the African community not just in Auckland but across all New Zealand. These issues must be discussed rather than debated. The focus of the African community is not to get into a tug of war with the Police. The report is based on research that has been done with great integrity and our focus should be on the substantive issues raised in the report. Obviously any institution that comes under the spotlight in a report such as this would like to protect their image. However, the focus of our conversations should be on how African youth can be supported to reach their full potential as part of the New Zealand community.

 

The reality of the issue of racism in New Zealand is not in doubt and we dismiss it at our peril. Some of us have been involved in working with a number of institutions in New Zealand including the Police, the justice system, CYFS, schools and other establishment for over 25 years to educate ourselves about ways in which our youth can be best integrated into New Zealand society as full and responsible citizens. These institutions must accept responsibility to continue to educate themselves about the issues raised in this report rather than try and discredit the research as ‘unsubstantiated claims from anonymous respondents’.

 

We will be discussing these issues at the meeting at the Wesley Community Centre in Mt Roskill tomorrow Saturday afternoon. It is important that the Police and other institutions come along to listen to the voices of African young people and other people in the community about these issues.”

 

The research report can be accessed online from 6 March 2016 through the Africa on My Sleeve webpage: www.africaonmysleeve.com

For media related inquiries please contact:

Makanaka Tuwe

Email: africaonmysleeve@gmail.com

Mobile: 021-1321-481

 

 

 

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