Eight mayors of Melbourne have asked for the unity and the end of the talk about the so-called "African gangs", which has repeatedly appeared in the news headlines this year.
The Afro-Australian leaders in Victoria have said that the rhetoric of the "gangs" is an example of fear and has reviled their community to the point that now some feel unpleasant in the state.
The mayors of the Melbourne, Darebin, Moreland, Whittlesea, Hume, Yarra, Knox, Monash and Melton councils joined Australian-African community leader Maker Mayek in a public demonstration of solidarity in the Brunswick suburb on Monday.
"We come together to say that we value the contribution of these residents, we deeply appreciate the diversity of culture and experience they bring to our cities," said Moreland City Mayor John Kavanagh.
"Making young people and their families feel welcome in the place they now call home is the best way to make our communities healthier – that's how we create jobs, help people complete school, or provide avenues for training and employment, "City of Melton Mayor Bob Turner said.
The Minister of Internal Affairs, Peter Dutton, made headlines in January after claiming that the people of Melbourne were "afraid to go out to restaurants" at night due to the violence of the "African gangs".
Since then, political talks have been unleashed at the federal, state and local levels. Media coverage has also been continuous.
With the Victorians ready for the polls this year, the mayor of the City of Whittlesea, Kris Pavlidis, accused the politicians who return to the rhetoric of the "African gang" to turn the dispute into an electoral issue.
"The role of political leadership is to unite diverse communities, to ensure that vulnerable people receive the tools they need to thrive and dismantle useless stereotypes and prejudices, not to amplify them," Cr Pavlidis said.
Victoria police have said there are small groups of African-American youth who cause problems but have minimized concerns about alleged gangs.
Mayek said criminals make up only a small percentage of the Afro-Australian community in general.
"You can not cover an entire community just because of the actions of a few young people, we all call Australia home, and it is important that all members of our communities come together to make everyone feel welcome," he said.
The Criminologist and Director of the Associate Professor of the Migration and Inclusion Center of Monash, Rebecca Wickes, said that some Melbourians feel insecure just because they are told they feel insecure.
"We have to put an end to the fear of calls 'African gangs' – it is detrimental to members of African communities and is detrimental to Australia," said Ms. Wickes.
The Australian-Sudanese community has been particularly singled out by the talk of "African gangs".
Victorians of Sudanese origin were responsible for three percent of the serious assaults, five percent of car thefts and 8.6 percent of thefts aggravated in the past year, according to the Crime Statistics Agency of Victoria.
However, they were responsible for only 0.1% of crimes committed in general, the agency said.