By: Elizabeth Renter,
“We’re doing this for your own protection.” Protesters with the Australian group BurgerOff are hearing a similar phrase from McDonald’s. The fast food giant is suing protestors who object to the birth of a new McDonald’s restaurant near an elementary school. What’s more, Mickey D’s (slang for McDonald’s) is saying that the lawsuit is for the protesters’ own protection. It isn’t clear what this protection is against, unless McDonald’s thinks they can protect people from good health.
Nearly 100,000 people from Australia, mostly in the town of Tecoma, have signed a petition seeking to stop McDonald’s from building there. But McDonald’s doesn’t care what the people want.
Members of the group BurgerOff, so committed to keeping Ronald and the Fry Guys out, recently flew around the world to deliver their petition to McDonald’s global headquarters near Chicago. Not only were they not given an audience with the company’s execs, but representatives refused to even touch the petition.
The battle for Tecoma has been going on for more than two years. McDonald’s wants to build one of their 24-hour drive-thrus near an elementary school, a location townspeople say would serve as a giant advertisement affecting their smallest citizens. Tecomans don’t want the restaurant there, or anywhere near them.
Every day, kids as young as five years old would need to walk past a giant advertisement for junk food just to go to school…
Our community doesn’t want that. The plan is opposed by 90% of residents…But instead of respecting our wishes, McDonald’s appealed the decision and are using their huge financial and legal power to bully their way into our town. They’re now suing locals who are objecting to the building of the store in the Victorian Supreme Court – and there are accounts of McDonald’s private security on the proposed site threatening and intimidating locals who have peacefully protested against the plan.
BurgerOff and citizens of the town have organized protests, flash mobs, social media work, and community outreach events to keep McDonald’s at bay. While they’ve managed to hold them off for the past few years, McDonald’s is undeterred.
As a matter of fact, they are so committed to putting in a restaurant where they aren’t wanted, that they are suing the protesters. McDonald’s has filed a lawsuit to keep protesters away from the construction site. It’s their opinion that the town wants them there and the protesters only represent a small fraction.
“That’s a lie that McDonald’s in Australia keeps pushing,” says Garry Muratore, one of the protestors. “We know that nine out of 10 people don’t want this.”
Those “nine out of 10 people” were represented in the more than 7,000 pages of petition that were hand delivered to McDonald’s global headquarters, pages that had to be handed off to a security guard because company officials wouldn’t come near it.
As for their lawsuit, McDonald’s says it is the best way to protect the protesters. Confused? So are the protesters.
“We then pointed out that if they were being responsible, why are they suing us? And it was a little bit like the quote from the Vietnam War that we had to destroy the village to save it,” added Muratore. “They actually told us that they were suing us for our own legal protection… I don’t know what that meant, but they seemed to think it was a great idea.”
This article first appeared on Natural Society.