ZB

Death threats made against man who led counter protest against Freedom and Rights Coalition

Author
Lincoln Tan, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Sun, 3 Jul 2022, 12:28pm
Counter-protesters in the Octagon demonstrate against a march by the Freedom and Rights Coalition. Photo / Gregor Richardson
Counter-protesters in the Octagon demonstrate against a march by the Freedom and Rights Coalition. Photo / Gregor Richardson

Death threats made against man who led counter protest against Freedom and Rights Coalition

Author
Lincoln Tan, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Sun, 3 Jul 2022, 12:28pm

A man who led a counter rally against a Destiny Church offshoot that was protesting vaccine mandates claims to have been receiving death threats. 

Dudley Benson, a "queer" artist and composer, said he received the threats from supporters of the Freedom and Rights Coalition (FRC), which was founded by Destiny Church Leader Brian Tamaki and now led by former boxer and now Destiny pastor Derek Tait. 

"Over the past two nights I've received two unprovoked death threats from Freedom & Rights Coalition supporters who today are marching in Dunedin. Then last night Destiny Church cuck and F&R leader Derek Tait took a pic outside our bar and sent it to us and several others," Benson wrote on Twitter on Saturday. 

 

This was just before the protest in Dunedin's Octagon yesterday afternoon, which Benson said were attended by 45 FRC supporters whose voices were "drowned" by about 400 counter protesters. 

Benson said the group AntiFascist Ōtepoti were opposed to the "homophobic" views of FRC. 

"Our goal was to show resistance to the misinformation and to extreme right wing ideology from...these hate groups marching in our cities. In this case, coming in the form of the Freedom and Rights Coalition who have a history of being anti LGBTQ+," he said. 

Benson uses a bar he owns in Dunedin called Woof! as a platform to publicise events it supports including this counter rally, which was shared on its social media platforms. 

"Overnight I received two death threats from supporters of FRC, one said if I go near their children I will get a bullet and another said that gay people are a plague...and they look forward to me dying," he said. 

Benson said he did not feel threatened for himself, but rather for the younger queer people. 

"They are facing all kinds of challenges in their lives around who they are, what their identities are. They may be facing homophobia at home or transphobia at school, live isn't easy for them," he said. 

"And they do not deserve to be getting death threats or abuse online. They are much more vulnerable than I am." 

Benson said he was in the process of making a police report, and that he had also made a report about the photograph Tait took and circulated online. 

"He tried to intimidate us by coming to our bar the night before the protest and got someone to take a photo of him outside our bar," he said. 

"He then proceeded to send that photo to us and to other people on Facebook who have expressed support of our counter rally saying 'see you tomorrow boys and girls'." 

Benson said the views of Tait and FRC are aligned with Q-Anon, with misogyny and white supremacy." 

Destiny Church founder Brian Tamaki has in the past garnered controversy for his homophobic messaging. 

Tait has been approached for comments. 

Yesterday, Tait told media that they were in Dunedin to protest against vaccine mandates and the Three Waters reform, not LGBTQ+ rights. 

Counter protesters took the top of the Octagon, while supporters of the FRC claimed the bottom half. 

Ahead of the event, AntiFascist Ōtepoti spokeswoman Sina Brown-Davis said the march did not represent the values of the wider Dunedin community. 

Tait was close associates with white supremacists and neo-nazis, she said. 

The group was intending to hold a positive and peaceful demonstration to show that the politics of hate and division were not welcome in the city. 

Tait denied the allegations that the group were alt-right or fascist. 

He said the claim that the group were racist or white supremacists was ridiculous, as he himself was Māori.