African rangatahi feel traumatised by Police

By Mānia Clarke

Some African youth feel traumatised by what they say is unjust treatment by police. A 31-year-old African man living in NZ says he is still dealing with depression from one incident with police 10 years ago. 

Marvin recalls being parked in ditch on the side of the Auckland motorway when he was approached by two policemen in his broken down car.

“The policeman came to out of the car and rushed to where I was, so I quickly got out of the car to meet them halfway. He said, ‘what are you doing umm reversing on the motorway at this time of night nigger don't you know that's unsafe’, words to that effect,” says Kenyan born, Marvin.

He's one of 31 accounts of African youth who claim to have been mistreated by police.

That's according to a report by AUT researcher Dr Camilee Nakhid, “Walking in groups they're stopped, they're profiled, they're recorded, they're harassed, some of them have been suspected of stealing cars.  If they approach the police, they will be handcuffed thrown against the bonnet.The police are calling them niggers.  They're pulling them out of their cars and calling them monkeys.”

Marvin says it's been traumatic for those affected, “A lot of them are suffering from depression.  They're remaining quite in their homes, self-medicating or even like experimenting with drugs to numb their pain.  Avoiding family because of the shame.”

According to Wally Haumaha, spokesperson for The Police Department, police are disappointed that serious allegations about staff interactions with African youth have been made based on unsubstantiated claims from anonymous individuals in a report published today.

Dr Nakhid hopes her report will bring about change for those affected, “We would like to have a holistic approach to it because you do not want it to be just those police, because it's police culture and that needs to be changed. To bring awareness, make New Zealand aware of what's going on, because many people don't.”

Tomorrow an African Youth forum will take place in Sandringham, Auckland, where the community and police can talk further about the issue.