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Here's Everything You Need To Know About Why #AfricanGangs Is Trending

"Since African youth can’t be in a group of three or more without being labeled a 'gang'. Here’s my team, I’m the leader."

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African-Australians are responding to claims there's an African gang-related crisis in Melbourne, Victoria, by sharing their achievements, photos of themselves at work, and things such as graduation pictures on social media with the hashtag #AfricanGangs.

Look at these members of #AfricanGangs up to no good, although I am not so sure about what is African about the two… https://t.co/7dvkzfFRUR

The hashtag has taken off after Australian tabloids began focusing on crime committed by African-Australians in Melbourne. Australia's home affairs minister, Peter Dutton, was criticised last week after asserting Victorians were scared to go to restaurants at night because of the street crime.

"You look at some of the jokes of sentences that are being handed down, there's no deterrence at the moment," Dutton told 2GB radio."We just need to call it for what it is. Of course it's African gang violence. It's not the whole community, there are many good people within the community that would condemn this action as strongly as you and I would ... and have done so, and to their credit."
Stefan Postles / Getty Images

"You look at some of the jokes of sentences that are being handed down, there's no deterrence at the moment," Dutton told 2GB radio.

"We just need to call it for what it is. Of course it's African gang violence. It's not the whole community, there are many good people within the community that would condemn this action as strongly as you and I would ... and have done so, and to their credit."

Dutton was mocked by many Australians for his claim, with the hashtag #MelbourneBitesBack trending as Melburnians flocked to restaurants to counter his accusations.

@GetUp @PeterDutton_MP Another brilliant meal at Chez in Prahran, then walked home to St Kilda (yeah the horror huh… https://t.co/KeFUnom4lh

I finally made it out the door for dinner, but then I realised if I go into a restaurant people will think I'm the… https://t.co/7vvl0pLiVj

Earlier this month Victoria Police said there were no gangs but later clarified that African youths were overrepresented in violent offending statistics. On Wednesday, Victoria Police announced the creation of an African Australian community task force.

Police minister Lisa Neville said that while most African migrants to Australia were law-abiding citizens, there was a "core group of African youths" causing fear.

The large majority of crimes in Victoria are committed by Australians and New Zealanders. The Sudanese and South-Sudanese population makes up 0.14% of the state's population and 1.5% of its criminal offenders are Sudanese-born.

Sections of the Australian media have demonised the African-Australian community because of these reports, leading for days with headlines about African gang-related crime. African thinktank leader Dr. Berhan Ahmed told SBS News the labelling of African youths as "gangs" did not help the situation.

putting two journos on the new African Crime vertical

“The label is more superimposed on the groups, rather than the groups inventing them," he said.

"The media is also not helping them and helping us collectively by putting that name — and those kids are finding themselves a name and a group. Instead of being a solution, it has been a crisis."

Meanwhile, a Twitter thread from reporter Benjamin Millar also went viral. Millar has covered Melbourne's west for eight years and his thread outlining the dozens of crimes committed by people not of African origin was retweeted over 1,000 times.

I have covered news in Melbourne's west since 2010. If #AfricanGangs had been a thing, I may have noticed. Here are… https://t.co/27rNjRe6ZJ

Young men and women who have come from the 54 countries that make up Africa feature in some instances of the crime… https://t.co/Z2ML20Y2sr

This week many Australians took to social media to criticise the claims of an African crime wave, with some saying it was nothing short of opportunism from politicians and the media.

Demonising migrants from Somalian and Sudanese communities achieves two political ends. Firstly, it makes some Vict… https://t.co/93DFe8UIBv

@benofbrisbane1 @barriecassidy Those of African appearance are responsible for 3% of youth crime in Victoria. Where… https://t.co/5eUVzFVW47

All these aussies outraged about ‘gangs’, acting like they’re not descendant of actual convicts lol.

How good would it be if the federal government had the same level of concern for Aboriginal kids targeted (murdered… https://t.co/cJSS1LxKTQ

But but but... African crime gangs.... #auspol https://t.co/9w5MGST3Ys

The African-Australian community has also clapped back against the allegations using the hashtag #AfricanGangs. Photos of African-Australian soldiers, university graduates, and community leaders littered social media.

Ooops! This is probably a doctored paper #AfricanGangs

#AfricanGangs These "youths" are out of control

#Hon Michael Kirby ain’t afraid to take a photo with #AfricanGangs ✌🏿

Another great addition to the growing number of #AfricanGangs

Thanks mom for instilling #AfricanGangs values in me , been at my current employment for 7 years, run my own busine… https://t.co/IVgAZyrHfC

Since African youth can’t be in a group of 3 or more without being labeled a “gang”. Here’s my team, I’m the leader… https://t.co/7UFE27RNPX

Graduate from Gangs school! #AfricanGangs

👏👏👏👏👏👏

#AfricanGangs Look how terrifying we are. Menace to society #Africanaustrans

As of Wednesday afternoon, the hashtag was still moving. Turns out there are quite a few African-Australians who don't really agree with the government and media's perspective of their culture.

Brad Esposito is a news reporter for BuzzFeed and is based in Sydney, Australia.

Contact Brad Esposito at bradley.esposito@buzzfeed.com.

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