YOUNG men of African descent experienced more difficulty with police than other youth, were less likely to have their rights respected and more likely to feel they had been racially targeted, according to a new report on Victorian police and race.
A 12-month study on racial profiling by the Flemington and Kensington Community Legal Centre, titled Race or Reason?, found young men of African descent were almost twice as likely as Australian-born youth to have been stopped and questioned by police in the past month.
The experience of young African men with police was "fraught with difficulties" and characterised by the use or threat of physical force or insulting language. Young men of African descent were more likely to be charged with minor offences.
Young African men reported feeling scared, angry and targeted and made to feel "small and dumb". Many felt they had been "cruelly treated".
Almost half (47.6 per cent) strongly felt they had been stopped by the police because of their race.
As a result, young men of African descent were noticeably more likely than any other ethnic group to worry about being stopped by the police when walking alone. Almost 30 per cent answered they were "not at all" able to walk down the street without worrying about such contact, compared to just 1.8 per cent of Australian-born youth.
Young women of African descent were also significantly likely to feel that police would be tougher on them than Australian-born women.
In May, the Victorian government agreed to a settlement with two African refugees who claimed they had been chased, beaten and abused by police officers.