It's Blacktown, So All The Crooks Must Be Black, Right?


If you’re in the crime-fighting business, then social media can be your best friend. Last month in Port Macquarie, for example, the alleged thief of a $40,000 ute found himself on the wrong side of the law after posting on Facebook about his new acquisition

But social media can also be your enemy, something officers from Blacktown Police in Western Sydney are finding out the hard way.

This week, the Blacktown Local Area Command turned to their popular Facebook page to alert local residents to two crimes that occurred on Wednesday night.

And given that the community is called Blacktown… well, why not use stock images of black people committing crimes to give their social media campaign a little more oomph?

Officers reported that a Lalor Park male was stopped and searched by police, who uncovered a concealed knife. He was charged with custody of a knife in a public place. The picture used to illustrate the post was a stock image of a black hand holding a knife.

A posting immediately before it reported that police were seeking a man after the attempted abduction of a 16-year-old girl.

“Police are appealing for public assistance following the attempted abduction of a teenage girl near Penrith overnight. About 7pm (Tuesday 17 June 2014), a 16-year-old girl was walking along O’Connell Street in Kingswood after getting off a bus from Mount Druitt.

“A short distance from the bus stop, the girl was approached by a man in a vehicle. Investigators have been told the man spoke to her briefly, before grabbing her arm and attempting to pull her toward the vehicle. The girl hit the man across the face, before he returned to his vehicle and fled the area.

While no description of the offender was provided, presumably he’s black. Why? Because the stock image used to illustrate the story was a black man holding his hand over the mouth of a young white child.

Shortly after New Matilda contacted the Police Media Unit for comment, the images were removed. So too were complaints about the use of the stock images from social media users.

A spokesperson from the NSW Police Media Unit told New Matilda the images were sourced externally and should not have been used. The spokesperson apologised, saying there was no intention to cause offence. However, Police Media remained silent on requests for details about the race of the alleged offenders.

Blacktown Police took one other post down from their site yesterday – a tip from a helpful local about professionalism in the Police Service.

“Just some friendly advice so you can warn some of our constables that their voices can be heard clearly in the waiting room. Hearing people that ring that station described as “just a bunch of f**kwits”… does not convey a professional image and gives an attitude that the public are to be held in contempt. Customer service should apply on both sides of the law.”

And it seems they’re getting the message: shortly after the stock images were removed, they were replaced with pictures from Refugee Week events in Blacktown, and a brochure promoting an upcoming NAIDOC Week BBQ with the Aboriginal community.

That said, they probably don’t quite offset the multiple posts referring to local police as “dogs” and “c*nts”, which are still visible on the Blacktown LAC’s page, under the subheading 'reviews'.

Ah, social media, where we would we be without you!

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Chris Graham is the publisher and editor of New Matilda. He is the former founding managing editor of the National Indigenous Times and Tracker magazine. In more than three decades of journalism he's had his home and office raided by the Australian Federal Police; he's been arrested and briefly jailed in Israel; he's reported from a swag in Outback Australia on and off for years. Chris has worked across multiple mediums including print, radio and film. His proudest achievement is serving as an Associate producer on John Pilger's 2013 film Utopia. He's also won a few journalism awards along the way in both the US and Australia, including a Walkley Award, a Walkley High Commendation and two Human Rights Awards. Since late 2021, Chris has been battling various serious heart and lung conditions. He's begun the process of quietly planning a "gentle exit" after "tying up a few loose ends" in 2024 and 2025. So watch this space.