Imagine a huge multinational corporation making products that your town considers so unhealthy they decided not to let the company open up shop. Imagine only 59 people in your town (4%) actually wanting the company to come in, demolish local landmarks, and open their doors. Now imagine that company taking your community to court, to sue for the right to sell their unhealthy products right across from an elementary school, in spite of your town almost unanimously opposing it.
That is exactly what has happened in the Australian town of Tecoma.
Locals describe the town as “a peaceful village in the Dandenong Ranges, 40 kilometres east of Melbourne, with a population of 2085 residents.” In spite of their small numbers, Tecoma activist got the word out and came together with others to gather over 100,000 signatures demanding that McDonalds stay out of town.
Once the signatures were compiled, activists from an organization called BurgerOff flew thousands of miles to the McDonald’s global headquarters just outside of Chicago to deliver the petition and page after page of signatures. Company representatives refused to accept the petition, or pile of signatures. They literally wouldn’t even touch it according to BurgerOff activists.
For years now, activists from BurgerOff and the people of Tecoma focused their opposition to the McDonald’s branch positioning its 24-hour drive-thru location near an elementary school. This, they explained would be “a giant advertisement for junk food” for young children.
Activists in Tecoma have turned to regular protests outside of the site and others nearby, voicing their discontent with the corporation’s plans for the town.
“They sent out a P.R. [public relations] lady and a guy from corporate responsibility,” Garry Muratore, a Tecoma McDonald’s protester said to Australia’s Sunrise Live.
“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.”
According to Muratore, McDonalds has been running ads saying that the community is demanding that they set up a location in Tecoma. “That’s a lie that McDonald’s in Australia keeps pushing,” he explained. “We know that nine out of 10 people don’t want this.”
How does Muratore know?
According to local activists from BurgerOff:
“On October 11th 2011, local Councillors met and voted on the proposed development. 650 local residents attended to hear the decision and once again voice their objections. The Shire of Yarra Ranges Council UNANIMOUSLY rejected the proposal.”
Furthermore, “A door-knock survey of 80% of the adult residents of Tecoma was then conducted in November/December 2012.”
“Every household in Tecoma was door-knocked,” activists explained. “All households that were not home in the first instance were door-knocked a second time during the following fortnight. One question was asked “Are you for or against the proposed McDonald’s development in Tecoma?” The results were overwhelming, with 88.2% of Tecoma’s residents stating that they are against the development (1085 people), 7% didn’t know or didn’t care (86 people) and a lowly 4.8% were for it (59 people).”
But McDonalds isn’t stopping there, they are actually suing the town in the Victorian Supreme Court, after having their attacks on the townsfolk repeatedly dismissed.
“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,” Muratore explained further. “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.”
What are your thoughts? If you agree with the protesters, sign the petition here and pass the word on to others who might be interested.
(Article by Ezekiel Adams; image via CampusScope)
Original source of the article: http://politicalblindspot.com/mcdonalds-suing-town/