Shepparton and Cobram residents reportedly attended a right-wing activist meeting to combat African gang violence in the state.
According to a 7News Melbourne report on Sunday night, the group hopes to ‘‘harness the power of social media’ and form a Neighbourhood Watch-type organisation to protect the community.
Spokesmen Blair Cottrell and Kane Miller were disappointed by the Victorian Government and that police were not given the powers needed to combat the issue. “We have a few ideas that we have to put in place,” Mr Miller said. “It’s about time the community got involved because it’s clear to see that the police can’t save us all.”
Despite the issue being isolated to metropolitan Melbourne and Shepparton police acknowledging African gang violence did not pose a threat to Greater Shepparton, a number of residents from Shepparton and Cobram attended.
Shepparton Ethnic Council manager Chris Hazelman did not believe community vigilantism would solve anything. “I think we’ve seen the notion of vigilantes, and the evidence of that being successful is non-existent, and all it does is it engenders more mistrust, potentially more violence, and there’s no real community benefit in the outcomes,” Mr Hazelman said. “I think there is a variety of reasons why people might be drawn to that sort of organisation, whether it be its stance around antiimmigration, antimulticulturalism, or that they’re opposed to people from different ethnic or faith backgrounds.”
Youth crime has been a hot topic recently, but Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said crime was an issue best dealt with by law enforcers.
“People are free to meet and discuss whatever they want to, what I would say though is that Victoria Police is best capable, best able and best equipped to fight crime and keep the community safe,” he said.
The 7News network has received backlash online for its coverage of the meeting and Mr Hazelman said it only sensationalised the issue. “It highlights an issue in a particular way without offering any credible salvation or remedy, but no doubt it’s good for ratings,” he said.
Source: Shepp News 17 January 2018