Well that Border Force Patrol aka #BorderFarcePatrol stunt classified as ‘Operation Fortitude’ by the Federal government, fast morphed into an #OperationIneptitude debacle. Cancelled before it took off, this legalised gaffe in racial profiling represented the latest blunder in a suite of errors that’s come to reflect the national security agenda of federal politics. A mass protest ensued organised in a few hours after the announcement from Canberra that a stop and search style inspection would be held in Melbourne’s CBD.
I chanced upon this protest at Flinders Street Station, on my way to the #MelbourneWritersFestival2015 for Tariq Ali’s address, ‘TheTwilight of Democracy’. Amidst the protestors I chanced upon The Sign Guy, Jaffri, protesting with colleagues against the Border Patrol’s latest stop and search debacle.
This guy, Jaffri, regularly stands in the heart of the city, defiant and purposeful brandishing two signs; ‘Stop Racism’, and ‘I’ve Experienced Racism Here’. Situated outside the heart of Melbourne’s epicentre Flinders Street station, he’s deliberately seen by thousands of people including pedestrians, drivers and tourists l. I’ve seen him many times standing strong and holding his own. Reactions from passers by range from nods and smiles in solidarity to concerted efforts to avoid eye contact altogether. This guy is starting difficult conversations and calling out what gets silenced by institutions around us. It’s political. It’s personal. It’s on point. And the planned inspection by federal authorities, subsequently thwarted following communal backlash, is evidence of the racebased profiling of minorities that is the standard mandate of federal immigration policy. The racism and Islamaphobia at the heart of these policies is real. #STOPRACISMNOW
Tariq Ali speaking on the Extreme Centre threat at the twilight of democracy, at BMW EDGE, Federation Square