22 May - 29 May 1996

Each week McSpotlight will bring you the latest news on worldwide protests and campaigning events against McDonald's and other multinationals.

McContrast of opinions

24th May 1996

London-based lawsuit attracts protesters

While McDonald's Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Mike Quinlan introduced three-time Olympic medalist Jackie Joyner-Kersee Thursday at the annual shareholders' meeting in Oak Brook, protesters gathered outside McDonald's headquarters.

Holding signs and carrying handouts about rainforest destruction and health risks, members of the McLibel Support Campaign rallied to defend London Greenpeace, a group of protesters from England that has been sued for libel by McDonald's Corp.

The messages of the protestors and the corporate executives offered a stark contrast.

Inside the shareholders meeting, Quinlan reminded shareholders of the company's commitment to the Olympic games, when in 1968, "We airlifted hamburgers to homesick [American Olympic] athletes in Grenoble, France."

Outside, Mike Durschmid, a local organizer for the McLibel Campaign, told a different story. "What we're about is the health issue and the environmental issue. I'm standing [here] because McDonald's is selling unhealthy food to kids," he said.

The 'McLibel' suit dates back to 1989, when London Greenpeace protested McDonald's purchase of beef that allegedly had grazed on land that had once been rainforest.

London Greenpeace - which is not affiliated with the well-known Greenpeace International - also objected to the company's labor policies.

When asked for comment on the issue, Walt Riker, a shareholder and director of public affairs communications for McDonald's, said McDonald's UK headquarters is handling the case. "It's an English issue," he said.

The defendants, Helen Steel and Dave Morris, both of London, England, have refused to recant their allegations.

"It has turned into the longest libel trial in UK history," according to Durschmid, who recently purchased McDonald's stock for the purpose of entering the shareholders meeting Thursday.

Durschmid's complaints against the McDonald's Corporation include the company's hiring practices. "If workers try to unionise, union busters show up the second they hear about it. It's been tried here," Durschmid said.

No-one was arrested at the protest.

[Picture of two protesters outside McDonald's headquarters holding signs saying "40 Years of McGarbage" and "Defend Free Speech".]

Ronald pulls more tricks


Protesters handed out leaflets and waved placards while Ronald McDonald staged his "magic show" at Wood Green McDonald's in North London on 26th May. Also, protesters held a picket outside the Mare Street McDonald's on 28th May as part of the Hackney Anarchy Week in London.

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