Australian Border Force are in damage control this evening after Melbourne’s CBD was brought to a standstill by protestors rallying against a planned Visa crackdown in Melbourne this weekend.
The snap-action rally was called after the Department of Immigration & Border Protection released a statement announcing ‘Operation Fortitude’ saying they would be “targeting everything from anti-social behaviour to outstanding warrants”.
The statement outlined plans for ABF officers to be “positioned at various locations around the CBD speaking with any individual we cross paths with”.
The initiative was set to involve a number of agencies in Melbourne including Metro Trains, Taxi Services Commission, PTV and the Border Force to improve safety of the city.
Following the press release, #BorderForce trended across social media as many expressed outrage at the decision.
ME: I’m an Australian citizen. BORDER FORCE: oh yeah? sing the theme to Burke’s Backyard ME: uhhh
50 minutes after the conference was due to start the department was forced to withdraw it’s plans for a press conference and the operation itself reissuing a statement declaring they had not intended to “stop people at random”.
In a clarifying statement released shortly after a spokesperson for ABF said “The ABF does not and will not stop people at random in the streets and does not target on the basis of race, religion, or ethnicity”.
Victoria Police also issued a written statement saying they “will continue to work with our partner agencies” as their priority is the “safety and wellbeing of the whole community”.
After completing a “victory lap” of Flinders Street station protest leaders declared they “will be back” to continue fighting the Abbott government, offshore detention, closure of remote communities and capitalism.