Cops, community walk united

BLACKTOWN police have called on residents and the media to help to calm community tension by not publishing hateful and unsubstantial remarks on social media sites and in some metropolitan media.

Local area commander Superintendent Gary Merryweather was referring to some people calling for retaliation on Facebook, as well as sensational reports in some parts of the media, after the reported sexual assault of a 14-year-old girl by six men at Doonside on February 8.

He met with leaders of the African and Torres Strait Islander communities last Tuesday night to discuss calming the community.

Superintendent Merryweather spoke to the Sun after about a dozen community leaders and police officers walked side by side through the Blacktown CBD on Thursday night to allay community fears resulting from the incident.

"It also showed unity between different communities and their good relationship with the police," he said.

Superintendent Merryweather said police had arrested one of the suspects and was confident of tracking down the others soon.

He called on people not to instil racial hatred in a community just because the suspects were from a certain community.

"It's wrong to stereotype people just because they are African or Torres Strait Islander background," he said.

He said his officers would intensify foot and mobile patrols of trouble spots.

Pastor Chris Bonsu of Living Word Church in Prospect said he advised his youth congregation to be calm and help prevent the incident from causing community violence.

"It was a very ugly incident. I asked them to support the police in tracking down the suspects who brought shame to their community," he said.

Ramese Tupe from Doonside's Mountain View Seventh-Day Adventist Church, which has a large Pacific Islander congregation, also urged his youth congregation to be calm last Friday night.

Sudanese community leader Deng Thiak Adut, who was one of the community leaders who met with Superintendent Merryweather after the incident, said that police should be allowed to do their job and called on residents to stop making senseless attacks on a particular community.

Click here to read "Stop the racism: African community not to blame for teenage girl’s assault, says leader" published by Nick Soon on February 13, 2014.

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