29 Mar 2024

Three charged over Gisborne rainbow crossing vandalism

8:27 pm on 29 March 2024
The rainbow pedestrian crossing on Gisborne's main street has been reinstated after it was painted over in protest by Destiny Church members.

Vandals attacked the rainbow crossing in the centre of Gisborne on Monday. Photo: SUPPLIED

Three people have been charged after painting over a rainbow pedestrian crossing in Gisborne, and police say they are pursuing it as a hate crime.

On Monday night protesters coated a layer of white paint over a rainbow-coloured crossing on Gisborne's main street. This was followed on Tuesday by a heated demonstration involving Destiny Church members and counter-protesters, outside a children's storytelling event read by a drag queen at the city's public library, which was de-escalated by police.

Then on Thursday, a rainbow crossing on Auckland's Karangahape Road was covered over with white paint overnight.

The trio accused of the Gisborne crossing damage are two men, aged 46 and 36, and a 45-year-old woman, who now face graffiti vandalism charges, Police Area Commander for Tairāwhiti Danny Kirk said.

They are scheduled to appear in the Gisborne District Court on Wednesday, and Kirk said police would be seeking reparation of costs.

A fourth suspect had also been identified, and police are working to locate them.

Kirk said the incident was disturbing and sad for the community.

"We consider that, on the face of it, the alleged offending is consistent with a hate crime, and we will seek to establish that as fact during the ongoing investigations and court proceedings.

"This incident has caused concern for many people in our diverse community and acts like this have no place here."

Erasing the Gisborne rainbow crossing was not an appropriate way to protest, Kirk said.

"Freedom of speech and the right to protest are fundamental principles of a free and democratic society under the rule of law," he said. "Sadly, a line has been crossed on this occasion."

The Gisborne rainbow crossing had since been repainted.

Auckland police have also earlier said they are treating the Karangahape Road vandalism as a hate crime.

A rainbow pedestrian crossing has been painted over by Destiny Church members in Gisborne

A rainbow pedestrian crossing was painted over by Destiny Church members in Gisborne on Monday 25 March. Photo: RNZ / Angus Dreaver

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