Victoria Police race case settled in out of court deal

A RACE discrimination case mounted against Victoria Police by six people of African descent living in Flemington was settled out of court today.

An expected eight-week trial at the Federal Court was avoided after last minute negotiations. A settlement statement was instead read in court.

The long running Haile-Michael and others v Commissioner of Police and others was initiated by six young African-Australian men five years when they lodged a complaint with the Australian Human Rights Commission.

Following an unsuccessful mediation with the Commission, action started in the Federal Court in 2010.

The case stemmed from allegations the young men were regularly stopped by police, mostly in Flemington and North Melbourne for no legitimate policing reason, and were subjected to racial discrimination, including assaults, racial taunts and abuse, and racial profiling.

Tamar Hopkins, Principal Solicitor Flemington Kensington Community Legal Centre,  said the claimants  deserved  to  be  acknowledged  as  true  champions of  justice and that she and her colleagues were inspired by them.

“They have stood up to what they and their community maintain has been  years  of  ongoing and systemic racial  discrimination  meted  out  by  Victoria Police,” she said.

In 2010, the Legal Centre launched a ‘police accountability project’ aiming to provide advocacy and individual remedies to the victims of police misconduct and racial profiling.

An announcement on what actions police will take in response to the inquiry is due by December 31 this year.

An analysis of data from the police LEAP database by Melbourne University Professor Ian Gordon, commissioned on behalf of the six men, found that:

● African men around Flemington and North Melbourne were roughly 2.5 times more likely to have their interaction recorded by police than the rest of the population.

● African men from the area committed significantly fewer crimes than men of any other ethnicity.

● When dealing with African men, police were more likely to use terms such as "gang", "no reason" and "move on".

- with The Age

More to come.

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