Rethinking ‘race’ riots


The mob violence in Melbourne during Moomba may give the semblance of a race related riots because the youth involved came from predominantly African (Sudanese) and Islander backgrounds.

Seen through the eyes of race we will only misdiagnose the problem and fail in addressing the core issues. Some perspectives have already been offered in the media with regard to addressing the violence.

Violence is not new to Melbourne. We have seen many violent incidents related to drugs and between bikie gangs, which were seen predominantly as a contest to power and as law and order issues. We have also witnessed mob behaviour at soccer events. The issue of race never came up in these analyses.

The violence on Saturday was from youth who come from community-oriented cultures. Coming to a western society which is increasingly becoming individualistic, they are losing the community support that nurtured them and helped them to shape their values and behaviour.

The violence in Melbourne is a sign of families not functioning well and parents, elders and community losing control. The new found individual freedom of the young people, coupled with disenfranchisement, past trauma, mob mentality, lack of alternatives, lack of role models and many other issues have contributed to the unfortunate event.

Much needs to happen to prevent such incidents in the future. A community based approach needs to be undertaken. The police alone will not be able to address this. This is not merely a law and order issue. It is much deeper. Educational institutions, community organisations, employment agencies and, more importantly, the elders and families need to come together to address the behaviour of the youth.

The police, too, need to engage in a personal relations exercise with the disenfranchised youth to have open and honest conversations and build relationships. Such youth come from all ethnicities. While disciplinary action through the law needs to be taken to drive the message that such acts of violent behaviour has no place in a civilised society, rehabilitation programs should be offered to the offenders to address this as a human issue.

Image by New Daily via Twitter.

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