October 16th 1996 was the 12th annual Worldwide Day of Action Against McDonald's (also UN 'World Food Day'). Many people around the world handed out the "What's Wrong With McDonald's" or similar leaflets , or protested against McDonald's in some other way on or around that day.


There was leafletting and protests outside approx. 250 of McDonald's UK stores. In addition to leafletting the public with "What's Wrong With McDonald's?" leaflets, 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. And thousands of special leaflets for kids were distributed for the first time. Approximately two million "What's Wrong With McDonald's?" leaflets have so far been handed out on the streets in the UK since the writs were served on the McLibel Two. McDonald's attempt to suppress freedom of speech has completely backfired.

McDonald's European Headquarters, London - The 40 protesters included a person dressed in a 'litter suit' made from discarded items of McDonald's packaging, and a person dressed as a McDonald's worker, who was chained to a large mock-up burger, symbolising McDonald's exploitation of workers. Bags full of McDonald's litter were returned to the company to highlight the problems of waste, pollution and litter caused by the company's excessive packaging. Many of those present were also involved in protests at their local stores around London.

Camden, London - On the eve of the World Day, McDonald's made their third attempt to obtain late licences (extending the opening hours) from Camden Council for two of their central London branches, and they were thwarted once again. McDonald's spent thousands of pounds employing seven lawyers and consultants to try to outwit a lone local resident and McLibel supporter who objected to their late licence applications. McDonald's were forced to admit that one of the stores had remained open after its licensing hours on numerous occasions, in blatant disregard of the law. After 4 hours of argument over McDonald's applications, McDonald's lawyer demanded a decision on the late night licences from the council committee, threatening "We're not going to wait forever", to which the committee chairman responded "In that case, it could be no." Meanwhile, in a further embarrassment to the company, McSpotlight activists were given permission to film the= proceedings.

Oxford - 40 student demonstrators from Green Action and Earth First! occupied the store for a time shouting "Stop McDonald's, Stop McLies" and then continued the protest outside, handing out leaflets and holding banners while one person played a drum.

Sheffield - Sheffield Children Against McDonald's (SCAM) held a picket, displaying their banners and handing out 3,000 leaflets.

Hull - As part of the protest, free veggie burgers were given away.

Glasgow - During their pickets, protesters circulated a petition opposing McDonald's attempts to open outlets in hospitals in and around the city.

Edinburgh - about 40 people from a wide range of groups distributed leaflets.

Leeds - Glossy coupons were handed out to the public by persons unknown, stating that they were redeemable for free Big Macs. About 200 people turned up at McDonald's for 'free' Big Macs but shortly after finding out that the coupons were not valid, they were offered free veggie food outside by the demonstrators. Forty people from Green Action held a lively picket for 4 hours.

Greater Manchester - About 40 protesters paraded around McJunk stores in central Manchester. A pantomine performed outside one branch featured Reggie the Veggie juggling clown defending Daisy the Cow from an evil chainsaw wielding Ronald McDonald. Bags of McDonald's litter collected from the streets covered the frontage to the store. Stores in Chorlton, Wigan, Bolton, Trafford, Salford and East Manchester were also picketted. Monthly pickets are planned.


The day was marked in Japan with the appearance of two clowns in the heart of Tokyo. The clowns, definitely no friends of arch-fiend Ronald McDonald, entertained shoppers and revellers in the Shinjuku area during the evening. Along the way they paid unannounced visits to two McDonalds stores, presenting the delighted patrons with Japanese pamphlets outlining the case against McDonalds and the trial of the McLibel Two.


Leafletting, the serving of veggie burgers and other activities took place in 14 towns and cities. Most of the protests were organised by Ung Vanster (Young Left), Faltbiologerna (a green group), and a newly-created network called Alla Mot McDonald's ("All against McDonald's"). In Stockholm, six stores were leafletted by over 50 people.


Les Halles, Paris - 25 protesters held a demonstration outside a McDonald's store. The protesters brought along healthy food of different cuisines, which they displayed on a table in front of the store and shared with passers-by. Four workers at the store came out and applauded what they were doing, and the reactions of people in the street were overwhelmingly positive.


There were demos in Carnaxide, Cascais (50 people), and a march through the centre of Lisbon followed by the picket of a store.


Campaigners from Federacja Zielonych & Front Wyzwolenia Zwierzat (FWZ) demonstrated in Bialystok outside a store and in the town centre, handing out Polish versions of the "What Wrong With McDonald's?" and "Ronald lies to children" leaflets.


Activists (mostly from DWARS, a green left youth organisation) leafletted McDonald's main store in Utrecht. They gave away free organic apples to the public, had a banner and gave away booklets on animal rights. Responses from the public were good.


About 30 people demonstrated in Sandefjord. Even a mock "Ronald McDonald" turned up and told listeners that McDonald's is cruel to animals, people and the environment.


There were three demonstrations in Barcelona, one of which was followed by a veggie dinner for 100 people, discussions, and a screening of the McLibel Video with simultaneous translation into Spanish. There were also protests in Malaga, Zaragoza, and possibly other cities.

BRAZIL (see Portugal page for translations)

20 activists distributed leaflets to the workers and the public in Santos/SP. One activist was wearing a Grim Reaper costume with the slogan "McDeath" across his chest. There were also protests in other parts of Brazil.


About 100 people protested in Brno's main square. Lots of them dressed as business people with death masks chased two ecologists in prison clothing (representing the McLibel 2) through the streets, while shouting "We want to consume more! Destroy the tropical rainforests! Throw ecologists in jail! Let's grind nature into hamburgers! Garbage is great!". They captured the two ecologists outside the McDonald's branch, and carried out a trial, after which the clown Ronald McDonald executed them. A crowd of 'admirers' cheered and dashed towards the store with champagne to celebrate another victory for multinationals, but the store management did not let the costumed campaigners inside. A similar action occurred in Wenceslas Square in Prague.


There were protests in the Blue Mountains (NSW) where there is a strong campaign opposing McDonald's plans to build a store at Katoomba. Two hundred people with banners and drums were at the demonstration in Melbourne which lasted for 6 hours. Activists from Food Not Bombs gave out free lentil burgers outside several stores in Sydney, and 20 protesters returned sacks of McDonald's rubbish to the company's Head Office in Sydney.


There were protests in approx 30 towns and cities across North America. Here are some of the more eventful actions:

Montreal, Quebec - A group of 50 to 100 people protested in front of an outlet that had just opened on the site of the city's heritage mountain, the Mount-Royal. Leaflets outlining 8 good reasons to stop going to McDonald's were handed out all day to passers-by and would-be customers.

New York City - Several actions were held, one at the McDonald's near the Empire State Building.

Rock 'N' Roll McDonald's, Chicago - the demonstrators were demanding that the life-size statues of the Beatles in this outlet be removed on the grounds that Paul & Linda McCartney have donated money to the McLibel Campaign, and that both Paul McCartney and George Harrison are vegetarians.

Santa Cruz, California - Two activists scaled the store's roof to drop a banner. Other activists locked onto chairs and tables inside the store with kryptonite locks. Five activists were arrested and released less than 2 hours later. There was print and television coverage.

Minneapolis, Minnesota - Activists also took over the roof of a McDonald's for about 2 hours. They used the "human octopus" - bikelocked together - to frustrate the brutal police response. After trying several techniques, the fire dept. was called in to cut activists apart. After spending all night in jail, a judge let all those arrested go. The street around the store was closed down when a news helicopter trying to film the scene apparently took out a power wire. There was heavy news coverage, including television, radio and print.

Ithaca, New York - An animal rights group, known as the "Band of Mercy," hung the banner: "McDeath: Killing Animals, the Earth and You". The action received coverage on local television and print.

Bloomington, Indiana - Activists from a number of groups virtually closed the local store down from Noon to 2 pm. McDonald's was forced to give free food to some customers. There was television coverage locally.

Muncie, Indiana - Activists hung a banner from the local McDonald's reading: "Special Today: McMurder Deluxe." Ironically, while the manager came out and harangued the activists, the banner hung proudly behind him. Activists repeatedly entered the store, leafleting all customers. This spirited action also received substantial television coverage.

U.S. McLibel contact: Mike Durschmid +1-312 282 8236 & David Briars +1-802 586 9628

Other demonstrations that we know of occurred in: Italy, Ireland, Argentina, Slovak Republic, Germany, New Zealand, Greece, Belgium, Finland, and various other countries.

If you know of any further protests against McDonald's in October (or at any other time), we would be grateful if you could let us know about them.