A large police presence is in place at a rally in downtown Auckland as a high-profile court case takes place nearby.
Transgender rights activist Eliana Rubashkyn is asking to have the assault charges against her in the Auckland District Court dismissed for pouring tomato juice over self-described women’s rights activist Posie Parker at a rally in Albert Park in March.
Standing for Women is holding a rally in St Patrick’s Square, next to the court, today. Another group, Trans Liberation Alliance, is holding a counter-rally.
Around 50 police officers are at the scene, with more officers on standby on Federal St. There are also heightened security measures in place at the court.
The counter-protesters are chanting “stand up, fight back” and “we will not be quiet, we are fighting for our lives”.
Standing for Women have taped off an area in front of St Patrick’s Cathedral and put up banner and posters saying “Let Women Speak” and “Protect Women’s Spaces”.
Spokeswoman Tania Sturt said her group was representing Kellie-Jay Keen-Minshull, also known as Posie Parker, in New Zealand.
The rally was an opportunity for women “to speak about their experience and their beliefs”, she said. She was expecting around 200 supporters for their rally.
Trans Liberation Alliance said it was holding its counter-rally “in non-violent opposition to transphobia”. It has also cordoned off its own space within the square.
Spokeswoman Lucy, who asked that her surname not be published, said Parker’s supporters wanted to “push trans people out of public spaces.
”We are demonstrating to say we are not OK with that… and that trans rights are women’s rights.”
The group has put up a large pink poster “Trans Liberation”, and members are dancing and singing.
Police Auckland City District Operations Manager Richard Sami said police would be highly visible in parts of Auckland ahead of the court hearing and the gathering at the square.
“The safety of the public is our top priority and Police will be present to monitor and respond to any issues that may arise, and to minimise disruption to the wider public.
“While we recognise the right to protest, our responsibility is to uphold the law and ensure the safety of those who are present as well.”
Traffic may be delayed in the area, Sami said.
Rubashkyn, also known as Eliana Golberstein, said on Twitter that she would not be present in court today.
Her legal team is attempting to have the charges dismissed.
She was charged after the event at Albert Park on March 25, in which Parker had planned to speak but was overwhelmed by counter-protesters.
One counter-protester, who has name suppression, pleaded guilty last month to charges of assaulting a 71-year-old woman at the event.
The Independent Police Conduct Authority is investigating the police response to the Albert Park event.