Leaders call for calm

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

Blacktown police commander Superintendent Gary Merryweather was referring to people calling through Facebook — also reported in some newspapers — for retaliation over the sexual assault of a 14-year-old girl by six men at Doonside on February 8.

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

About a dozen community leaders and police officers also walked side-by-side through the Blacktown CBD last Thursday night to allay fears over the incident.

"It also showed unity between different communities," Superintendent Merryweather said.

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

Superintendent Merryweather called on people not to instil racial hatred on 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.

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.

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

Mr Deng, who attended the walk with police, said residents should look at it as a criminal act by individuals rather than their community.

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