Police are preparing for another pro-Palestine protest at the entrance to the Port of Auckland this evening, saying while they recognise the lawful right to protest, they will be there to uphold the law.
Advocacy groups planning today’s protest said it was to raise awareness of the ZIM Integrated Shipping Services, an Israeli shipping company. This is despite ZIM no longer docking at the Port of Auckland (POAL).
It follows several skirmishes at a protest last Thursday where dozens of pro-Palestine advocates blocked the port’s entrance and a man who threw a bottle at a police officer was arrested along with five others.
The Herald learned last week’s protest was against the importing of Israeli goods, with one protester threatening to remove Obela hummus, co-owned by an Israeli company, from New Zealand supermarket shelves.
Dozens of pro-Palestine protesters blocked an entrance to the Port of Auckland last week. Photo / NZ Herald
A POAL spokeswoman said the company respected the right for people to hold a peaceful and safe protest.
“Our priorities for this afternoon are maintaining the safety of people and protesters, and maintaining port security,” she said.
Acting police Superintendent Sunny Patel said police had been engaging the protest group and had given it advice on how to protest safely and legally.
“Police as an organisation is well-practised in dealing with these events and our staff work to ensure an effective professional response is provided based on the circumstances at the time,” Patel said.
Scenes from previous pro-Palestine protests in Auckland. Photo / Ted Black
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“Our role is to keep the peace and uphold the law. There will be a police presence at the event to provide reassurance to the wider community and maintain public safety, while recognising the lawful right to protest.”
The groups expected to be involved in today’s protest are Action for Palestine, Student Justice for Palestine, the Palestinian Solidarity Network Aotearoa and Working Students Aotearoa.
A spokeswoman for the protest groups said, “this protest is a nonviolent direct action”.
“[These groups] are calling on all those who are demanding an immediate ceasefire and an end to the genocide being committed in Gaza to join us in a protest,” she said.
“This protest is aligned with the global call to boycott, divest and sanction the apartheid state of Israel by targeting all businesses that bolster the Israeli economy and the Israeli Occupation Forces.
“Our protest today is to raise awareness of the ZIM Integrated Shipping Services that docks at our ports throughout Aotearoa New Zealand. In the last year, ZIM recorded a revenue of over US$12 billion [$19.4b].”
The groups’ spokeswoman said they wanted the New Zealand government to cut all diplomatic, cultural, sporting and economic ties with Israel.
Today's protest follows several skirmishes at a protest last Thursday where dozens of pro-Palestine advocates blocked the port’s entrance and a man who threw a bottle at a police officer was arrested along with five others. Photo / Raphael Franks
“We are calling on the Port of Auckland and the Maritime Union of New Zealand to stand in solidarity with us and refuse to host and offload the ZIM ships. Your solidarity is essential if we are to stop this [claimed] genocide.
“Our call is for everyone to stand in solidarity to call for a permanent ceasefire in Gaza and an end to the escalating violence in the West Bank,” she said.
Officer assaulted at previous protest
Inspector David Christoffersen said police attended the Port of Auckland last Thursday afternoon after reports of protest action.
“The group were initially operating lawfully but made a collective decision to block the roadway, entrance, and exit to the port,” he said.
“The group was warned they were obstructing the roadway and port operations and asked to move, however. they refused to do so.”
Christoffersen said police made six arrests, five for obstruction and one for disorderly behaviour.
“Over the course of the protest, OC [pepper] spray was deployed on one occasion and a police officer was assaulted. They had a split lip not requiring medical attention.”
Christoffersen said police had attempted to engage with the group prior to the protest action and had given advice on how to protest safely and legally at an adjacent location.
“However, this advice was not heeded. This behaviour is unacceptable as it disrupts the operations of a busy workplace and puts those in the area at risk.”
One container terminal was closed by POAL due to safety concerns.
Footage of the scene showed officers engaging in physical altercations with animated protesters and using pepper spray on at least one.
Raphael Franks is an Auckland-based reporter who covers breaking news. He joined the Herald as a Te Rito cadet in 2022.
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