On 15th April 1995, there were INTERNATIONAL PROTESTS to mark the 40TH ANNIVERSARY of the opening of the WORLD'S FIRST STORE of the McDONALD'S CORPORATION, and to celebrate 10 years of co-ordinated international resistance to McDonald's.
There were actions in at least 20 countries including New Zealand, Spain, Sweden, Ireland, Poland, Denmark, Australia, Czech Republic, Croatia, Netherlands, Germany, Finland, USA and the UK though details of events in some countries are not known.
Helen Steel and Dave Morris, the Defendants in the McDonald's libel trial, were flown over by their US supporters to join an anti-birthday event outside the first store opened by the McDonald's Corporation, in Des Plaines, Illinois (near Chicago). About 40 demonstrators marched in a circle by the first store (now a museum), shouting slogans and carrying placards informing passers-by of McDonald's exploitation of people, animals and the environment. McDonald's cancelled special plans to open the museum on that day, effectively abandoning any anniversary celebrations. Beforehand, the protesters picketted a McDonald's in downtown Chicago and held a press conference at which Helen and Dave smashed a big birthday cake bedecked with 40 candles. "With this day of protests, people are passing judgment on 40 years of junk food, junk jobs, and the discarded mountains of just plain junk," Dave said. UPI and Reuters newsagencies reported the event as well as local media in Chicago. A filmcrew from Australia were taking pictures to incorporate in a 15 minute documentary being made for a current affairs programme in Australia. And another filmcrew also filmed the events for a documentary to be made in the UK.
There were also demonstrations in Washington DC, Detroit, New York, and possibly other towns.
More than 120,000 leaflets were handed out across the UK, and some people returned bags of McDonald's litter to the company as part of the Operation 'Send-It-Back' campaign. At many stores, McDonald's workers were handed special leaflets expressing opposition to low pay and exploitation, and offering solidarity and encouragement to organise for their rights. Actions took place outside more than 100 stores in Glasgow, Derby, Cardiff, Brighton, Carlisle, Sheffield, Portsmouth, Taunton, Grimsby, Manchester, Hereford, Cambridge, Guernsey, Bristol, Edinburgh, Newcastle, Birmingham, Nottingham, Huddersfield, Swansea, Kettering, Dundee, Hull, London and many other towns. There were articles in the Guardian, the Observer, New Statesman (national newspapers and magazine), as well as TV coverage in London and reports in many local papers and on local radio/TV.
35 protesters gathered outside the Leicester Square McDonald's, handing out leaflets to members of the public. German, Italian and Spanish translations were also on hand for passers-by from abroad. A mountain of bags full of McDonald's litter and a person dressed in a 'litter suit' (see picture) made from discarded clamshells, fry cartons, drinks cups and burger wrappers were there to highlight the problems of waste, pollution and litter caused by the company's excessive packaging. A banner displayed for passers-by and customers inside the store read "40 years of McGarbage". Also, there was a person dressed as a McDonald's worker, who was chained to a large mock-up burger, symbolising McDonald's exploitation of workers through poor pay and conditions. Many passers-by stopped to discuss the issues and view the spectacle.
On two occasions during the picket, some protesters went inside the store to hand out leaflets to the customers as they ate their burgers. A picnic was staged outside - bread and fruit was laid out on blankets for the protesters and anyone passing by to share for free and enjoy. The pieces of bread were shaped into letters which read: "Real Food".
As the climax to the protest, the demonstrators took the bags of litter into the store to return them to the company. The banner was also taken inside. One protester shouted "We've had 40 years of McGarbage, and we don't want another 40 years."
About 80 people attending the Earth First! Gathering nearby descended on the main McDonald's in Swindon. They went into the store, handed out leaflets, and sang "Unhappy Birthday". After half an hour, the police arrived and asked everyone to leave including the customers. The protesters then staged a sit-down outside. The manager of the store decided to close it and it remained shut for the rest of the day. This apparently cost McDonald's 5,000 pounds sterling in lost revenue. Also in Swindon, some demonstrators went to a Drive-Through McDonald's, and drove round and round asking for veggie burgers each time they came to the intercom!
Individuals calling themselves Super Heroes Against McDonald's (SHAM) staged a die-in in a store in Norwich to express their disgust at McDonald's activities. Eight people collapsed to the floor, blocking the entrance, and had to be removed by staff and police.
The manager of this McDonald's had a shock just before the 40th anniversary when his 'restaurant' was included in the itinerary of the regular Critical Mass bike ride. Critical Mass is a fast-growing worldwide phenomenon in which cyclists gather to assert their right to ride without being killed, maimed and gassed by cars - by cycling together through the city at a leisurely pace for an hour or so. On this occasion, 200 cyclists decided to turn this store into a 'Bike-Thru'. Cries of "Go ahead and sue us" were heard as the ride left!
there were protests on 15th April and 1st May. About 30 people presented a lively and noisy demonstration each time with lots of placards and banners. Some people wrote anti-McDonald's slogans on the paved street outside with chalk.
protesters constructed a large mountain of McLitter with a "McDonald's Person" on the summit made from drinks cups, fry cartons, and other assorted items. The protesters stayed for 6 hours. Some of the crew members asked for leaflets and one even offered more McLitter for the mountain. The litter mountain was later sent in a number of boxes to Paul Preston at McDonald's Euro HQ.
there were more than 20 people on this protest. One of the passers-by was a street cleaner who said that 70% of the litter he collects comes from McDonald's.
150 people marched through the centre of Brno handing out leaflets after which there was a benefit gig when 5 bands played and videos were shown.
In Finland, there were protests in Helsinki, Tampere, Lahti, Vantaa and Jyvaskyla. In Tampere, there were pickets outside three stores at which bags of McGarbage were returned. There were about 250 people at the demonstrations outside 6 stores in Helsinki. There was street theatre, anti-McDonald's songs, flags, bags of McGarbage, and 3,500 leaflets about the company were handed out.
Special leaflets to 'celebrate' McDonald's 40th birthday were handed out in Grenoble.
Under a banner reading "Bloody Birthday, McDeath", activists from "The Animals' Voice", "MUT - Menschenrecht und Tierrecht", and "NaJu - Nuturschutzjugend" were demonstrating for 10 hours in front of the Dieburg McDonald's. The manager tried to bribe them into silence with offers of free Big Macs, salads, and Cokes. But "No chance, Mr. Big Mac"!
1,500 leaflets were handed out outside McDonald's in Stuttgart; to create a little chaos, the protesters printed some coupons which promised people free french fries and free coca-cola. There were also actions in Goppingen and possibly other towns.
80 people demonstrated outside McDonald's headquarters and a store in Oslo, coordinated by a new group called McDonald's Boikotten. Plans were made for demonstrations in Tonsberg, Trondheim, Bergen, and another in Oslo during the summer.
Between 50 and 60 people marched with banners and placards along the Ramblas in the centre of Barcelona, handing out 2,000 leaflets. The McLibel video dubbed into Spanish was shown at a meal and discussion afterwards. There were also actions in Alicante, Valencia, Madrid, Valladolid, and Mallorca.
There was a demonstration in Geneva.