Border Force fiasco: Operation Fortitude cancelled as protest shuts down Melbourne streets

August 28, 2015

A widespread community backlash has led to Victoria's chief police officer cancelling a controversial operation that would have seen people questioned about their visa credentials on Melbourne's streets.

On Friday afternoon, just hours before Operation Fortitude was set to commence in central Melbourne, Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton called off the plans for a wide-scale police initiative that was meant to target anti-social behaviour over two consecutive nights. 

Operation Fortitude was first announced by the Department of Immigration on Friday morning. A press release said officers from the federal government's new Australian Border Force agency would be stationed around Melbourne's city checking "any individual we cross paths with".

The press release sparked a fierce backlash on social media and later in protests that shut down one of the city's busiest intersections, over concerns that police and Border Force officers would use racial profiling to stop and search people for possible immigration fraud.

"If you commit visa fraud you should know it's only a matter of time before you're caught out," the initial Border Force statement said.

Published on Aug 27, 2015

ABC politics correspondent Chris Uhlmann analyses this unprecedented operation prior to the news conference on 28 Aug 2015. 

August 28, 2015 Victorian Police and Australian Border Force back down on visa spot-checking operation. A protest which shut a large section of the Melbourne CBD has led to a planned visa spot-checking security blitz being cancelled.

Operation Fortitude press release "clumsily worded": Border Force commissioner

Posted 28 Aug 2015, 4:59pm

Australian Border Force Commissioner Roman Quaedvlieg says the press release about Operation Fortitude was "clumsily worded" and "cleared at a low level of the organisation".

Australian Border Force blames farcical events in Melbourne on 'low level' official – live

Demonstrators blocked streets in central Melbourne on Friday in protest against the Australian Border Force’s plan to flood the city with officers for random checks on visas. As a result of the spontaneous protest, police cancelled a planned media conference and then the entire operation.

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