Friday, March 26, 2010

Australia / Police Violence against Minorities

Racist Email Scandal Engulfs Australian Police
By Kathy Marks
The Independent, March 26, 2010
"Accused of failing to investigate properly a string of attacks on Indian students, and of racially targeting African immigrants, police in Victoria must have thought their reputation could not sink any lower. Until yesterday, when the force announced that up to 100 officers were being investigated over racist emails that include a graphic image of a man of ethnic minority origin being tortured. The email scandal, which sent shockwaves across Australia, has already claimed one life: that of a long-serving police sergeant who shot himself in a suburban station on Monday after tendering his resignation three days earlier. Tony Van Gorp, 47, had been challenged by senior officers to give reasons why he should not be dismissed over his involvement in the affair. Another sergeant, who allegedly introduced the email containing the torture image into the police computer system, is also said to be facing the sack. According to the Melbourne newspaper The Age, 'sickening' racist comments were added to the email as it was circulated. The state's Chief Commissioner, Simon Overland -- who admitted last week that there was racism within the force, albeit, he said, confined to a small minority of officers -- said yesterday that the emails were too 'disturbing and gross' to be released publicly. Mr. Overland told a Melbourne radio station: 'It's extremely serious, it's offensive, and my view is that it would cause significant concern and alarm in the community if the material was made public.' The image of Victorian police has taken a battering over the past year, following claims that officers failed to acknowledge that attacks on Indian students living in Melbourne were, at least in part, racially motivated. In January one student, Nitin Garg, was stabbed to death in a suburban park after walking home at night from his job in a fast-food restaurant. Last week a damning report by three legal services concluded that young men from Sudan and other African countries were routinely targeted, verbally abused and even physically assaulted by police. Officers were accused of calling the youths 'monkeys' and 'black c--- s', of repeatedly arresting and questioning them, and, in one case, of removing their uniforms to beat up a group in a public park. ... It was not clear yesterday whether the torture image was based on a real incident, or was confected."

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