Plans by fast food giant McDonald’s to build its first restaurant in the Australian town of Tecoma, located in the state of Victoria, are being challenged by nearly 100,000 individuals who recently signed a petition demanding that McDonald’s stay out of the area. According to Yahoo! TV in Australia, representatives from an activist group known as BurgerOff recently flew 10,000 miles to the McDonald’s global headquarters near Chicago to deliver the petition and signatures, which company officials reportedly refused to touch.
For over two years, BurgerOff and the people of Tecoma have been fighting to keep McDonald’s out of their town, pointing out that the company’s intent to build a large, 24-hour drive-thru location near an elementary school would be “a giant advertisement for junk food” for young children who would walk by it daily. But according to the International Business Times, this massive grassroots effort that has included public demonstrations, flash mobs, social media and other forms of community outreach has thus far been unsuccessful at thwarting McDonald’s plans.
So to raise the stakes, BurgerOff went straight to the heart of the beast, bringing along signs, petitions and plenty of fervor, which has put the effort in the global spotlight. The group even set up little inflatable kangaroos at a busy McDonald’s location in Chicago, which helped draw even more attention. The ultimate goal of the protest, of course, is to show McDonald’s that it is not welcome in Tecoma and needs to look elsewhere for its expansion endeavors.
“They sent out a P.R. [public relations] lady and a guy from corporate responsibility,” explained Garry Muratore, a Tecoma McDonald’s protester, to Australia’s Sunrise Live recently about how McDonald’s responded to the arrival of four BurgerOff members. “They wouldn’t touch the actual petition; it was like we were giving them poison. They handed the 7,000 pages [of the petition] to a poor security guard there.”
Despite the fact that the vast majority of Tecoma residents, according to Muratore, are in opposition to the project, McDonald’s plans to move forward with it anyway. The company has even gone so far as to file a lawsuit against the protesters in an effort to keep them away from the proposed construction site, alleging that the project is well supported throughout the local community. But according to Muratore, this claim is absolutely false.
“That’s a lie that McDonald’s in Australia keeps pushing,” he told reporters. “We know that nine out of 10 people don’t want this.”
McDonald’s claims lawsuit will somehow ‘protect’ people of Tecoma
Muratore and his allies have, of course, challenged McDonald’s on this claim. But the response they received is both nonsensical and almost cryptic, as the burger giant claims that suing the protesters is the best way to protect them.
“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.”
You can keep up to date with all the latest in this David versus Goliath story by checking out the BurgerOff website: http://www.burgeroff.org