Australia

Hundreds protest Channel 7's 'African gangs' coverage

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"We're students, not gangs," one sign read.

Hundreds of people have protested outside Channel 7's headquarters in Melbourne following a controversial Sunday Night story on violence in Australia's African communities.

"Barely a week goes by when they're not in the news. African gangs running riot, terrorising, wreaking havoc," Channel 7 tweeted about the segment, which was broadcast earlier this month. 

The coverage was slammed by many as "racist", claims the network has denied.

Protesters held signs stating "We're students, not gangs" at the Channel 7 protest in Melbourne.
Protesters held signs at the Channel 7 protest in Melbourne.
Twitter/@CommunityLawVic

Members of Melbourne's Sudanese community gathered outside the network's studio in the city's Docklands and told how media coverage of their community has adversely affected them.

A mother broke down in tears when she told how her 19-year-old son's life was allegedly taken because of the colour of his skin.

The dead man's cousin, a 21-year-old, said her whole family was traumatised by the tragedy.

"Please let us live our life in peace," she said.

No other details of the man's death were provided. 

Protesters said they were "standing up to racism".
Protesters said they were "standing up to racism".
Twitter/@CommunityLawVic

Protest organisers led chants of "tell Channel 7 enough is enough" and "we are students and leaders, not African gangs". 

One young man pleaded: "Let us show you that we are more than the media portrays us to be."

Some carried signs against the government's recent rhetoric. 

"There is a gang issue here and you are not going to make it go away by pretending it doesn't exist," Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said during a visit to Melbourne last week. 

Protest organisers address the crowd outside Channel 7's office in Melbourne.
Protest organisers address the crowd outside Channel 7's office in Melbourne.
NITV

The protest follows the death of 19-year-old woman Laa Chol in Melbourne's CBD last week, which inflamed debate once again over whether or not there is a crisis in the country.

Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton blamed "Victoria's gang problem" for the woman's death.

"There is a major law and order problem in Victoria and more people are going to be hurt until the rule of law is enforced by the Victorian Government,” he told The Age. "We don’t have these problems with Sudanese gangs in NSW or Queensland."

Two teenage boys have been charged over Ms Chol's death. 

Speaking to the crowd assembled outside Channel 7, the protest organisers thanked those who had turned up and taken a "stand against racism".

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