A law professor who attended a Black Lives Matter protest in Auckland says she was blocked from entering Commercial Bay shopping centre because of the protest sign she was carrying.

Khylee Quince, associate professor at AUT's school of law, accused the company of discriminating against her on the grounds of political opinion.

Commercial Bay has apologised over the incident, saying it was a mistake which stemmed from miscommunication with security guards.

Quince, who is director of Maori and Pacific advancement at AUT, was among thousands who attended the Black Lives Matter protests in Auckland and Wellington yesterday.

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The protests against racial injustice were spurred by outcry in the United States over the death of Minneapolis man George Floyd at the hands of police.

Quince said on Twitter that she and her whānau were turned away by Commercial Bay security guards because they were carrying Black Lives Matter signs.

She accused the management company, Precinct Properties, of racism and criticised it for referencing Ngāti Whātua-o-Ōrākei chief Apihai Te Kawau on its website.

AUT law lecturer Khylee Quince says she was turned away at Commercial Bay because she was carrying a Black Lives Matter sign. Photo / Jason Oxenham
AUT law lecturer Khylee Quince says she was turned away at Commercial Bay because she was carrying a Black Lives Matter sign. Photo / Jason Oxenham

Commercial Bay has acknowledged the history of Ngāti Whātua-o-Ōrākei on the site of its downtown Auckland building, which opened on Thursday. Members of Ngāti Whātua were at the Auckland protest yesterday.

Other protesters said on social media that they were also turned away from the shopping centre.

"This was absolutely a mistake and a miscommunication from our end," said Precinct Properties chief executive Scott Pritchard.

"It has been our failing to not be clear enough with our security team. We sincerely and unreservedly apologise for the offence which has been caused and we will debrief with our whole team and seek to learn from this."

Scott Pritchard, CEO of Precinct Properties, apologised over the incident. Photo / Sylvie Whinray
Scott Pritchard, CEO of Precinct Properties, apologised over the incident. Photo / Sylvie Whinray

Pritchard said Commercial Bay had been advised by police to restrict people during the rally on safety grounds.

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"Regrettably, this has been misunderstood and our security has asked people to leave their signs at the entrance after the rally.

"We understand how this has been perceived, however it was never intended to cause offence. We apologise that this occurred and would like to reiterate that everyone is welcome at Commercial Bay."

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Pritchard said the company tried to reach Quince last night, and welcomed the opportunity to speak with her and discuss what it could have done better.

The Auckland march, which started at Aotea Square, headed down Queen St and ended at the US consulate, where protesters took a knee and observed a minute of silence for George Floyd.

In Wellington, between 3000 and 5000 people marched from Civic Square to Parliament.

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