By: Norma Bennett Woolf  Date: 01/16/2012 Category: | Animal Rights Extremism |

McDonald's Restaurants and other fast food establishments have joined fur retailers as prime targets of animal rights activists in the past several months. Demonstrators have protested meat on the menu with activities ranging from hanging "meat is murder" banners on restaurant buildings to breaking windows, harassing customers, blocking drive-through windows, gluing door locks, vandalizing stores, and committing arson.

McDonald's has been especially hard hit. The company struck back by suing two British activists who distributed a pamphlet accusing the international chain of promoting an unhealthy diet, treating animals and workers badly, decimating rainforests to raise beef, and luring children into its stores with seductive advertising. After a three-year battle in court, the longest trial in British history, McDonald's won a hollow victory in June; the activists were found guilty of defamation but gained international publicity for their cause.

Last October, McDonald's stores in several US cities were vandalized by radical groups, and the animal rights conference in Washington DC in June spawned a near-riot at a McDonald's in Crystal City, Virginia. More than 100 protesters gathered to picket the restaurant and protest its meat menu and paper containers. They began by burning an effigy of Ronald McDonald and ended by blocking the street for two hours. Three protesters were arrested inside the restaurant on charges of destruction of property and 13 were arrested outside for trespassing. One was charged with assault of a police officer. About 30-40 police officers responded to the call; they used pepper spray to aid in removing the activists from the property.


ALF diary

The Animal Liberation Frontline Information Service includes diaries of actions by animal rights activists. The first four months of 1997 were busy - hundreds of businesses were targeted, including restaurants. So far this year,

  • windows were shot or smashed in more than 20 restaurants in Salt Lake City, including McDonald's, Kentucky Fried Chicken, and Arby's (in January by the Northern Utah Animal Liberation Front);
  • locks were glued, windows broken or damaged at a Kenny Rogers Roaster in New York City (January, February, and March, ALF)
  • bathrooms were damaged at a Burger King and several other fast food restaurants were spray-painted with slogans in Cincinnati (February, ALF);
  • bathrooms damaged and spray-painted with slogans in McDonald's in Troy and Sterling Heights, Michigan (February, ALF);
  • locks glued at Burger King and McDonald's in NYC (March, ALF);locks were glued and buildings spray painted at McDonald's, Roy Rogers Restaurant, Burger King, and KFC in several New Jersey cities (March, ALF);
  • locks glued and windows smashed at McDonald's and Wendy's in Ithaca, NY (March, ALF);
  • Fast food restaurants weren't the only targets. Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream in NYC, butcher shops and delicatessens in several cities, and meat packing plants were also hit with vandalism ranging from spray painting and glass etching to arson.


Mink released from fur farms

Activists have also stepped up their protests against the fur industry by releasing mink from farms, raiding food co-ops, vandalizing fur stores, and splashing paint on fur wearers.

"In the months since the last issue of No Compromise, the ALF has smashed up more fur shops and sprayed countless fur wearers with red fabric paint," according to the "no compromise" animal rights website, "In a dramatic attack, the ALF set incendiary devices in a truck belonging to the Eden Prairie, Minnesota-based Haertel Company. Haertel makes a cleaning solution for fur farmers to use on pelts. The entire truck was destroyed, costing Haertel $18,000. The message was clear; even the smallest involvement with the fur trade would mean repercussions."

The Animal Liberation Frontline Information diary for the first four months of 1997 records dozens of attacks against fur retailers, including

  • locks glued and acid poured through mail slot at Bifano Furs North Dallas location in Texas (January, ALF);
  • more than 100 fur coats sliced with razor blades at a fur sale in Dallas (January, ALF)
  • the backs of more than 75 fur wearers covered with red paint in New York City during a weekend (January, Paint Panthers);
  • windows smashed and locks glued in two fur stores in Des Moines, Iowa (January, Paint Panthers);
  • butyric acid poured in the pockets of fur coats at a sale in Cobo Hall, Detroit, Michigan, and in stores in Dearborn, Michigan (February, ALF);
  • firebombs set in four trucks and the main offices of the Agricultural Fur Breeders' Co-op in Sandy, Utah; damages exceeded $1 million (March, ALF);
  • locks glued at two fur stores and a leather store in Huntington, New York (March, ALF);
  • minks released at a fur farm in Ontario, Canada, twice in a single month (March, ALF);
  • rock and incendiary device thrown through the window of Flemington Fur Company in Flemington, New Jersey, causing a fire and sprinkler damage (March);
  • chinchillas stolen from a fur farm in Texas (April, ALF); and
  • two cars belonging to a fur business owner in Indianapolis, Indiana, were covered with paint stripper and his house splashed with red paint (April, ALF).


In June, about 9000 mink were released from cages at a fur farm in Mount Angel, Oregon. Many of the mink were babies that were unlikely to survive in the wild. Vandals also destroyed records at the farm. Eye witnesses said that many of the mink were dead of exposure or from fighting with each other, but a spokesman for the Coalition Against the Fur Trade said that few animals died.

Also in June, the animal rights conference that spawned an attack on the McDonald's in Crystal City, Virginia, also generated an assault on a fur retailer in Washington DC. Demonstrators smashed windows and blocked the doorway so that customers could not enter or leave.


FBI director tags ALF arson as terrorism

Americans for Medical Progress reports in its latest newsletter that FBI director Louis Freeh used arson by animal rights as an example of "special interest terrorism" in his remarks to a Congressional committee on March 12.

"Special interest terrorist groups engage in criminal activity to bring about specific, narrow-focused social or political changes," Freeh told members of a House of Representatives appropriations committee. "They differ from more traditional domestic terrorist groups which seek more wide-ranging political changes. It is the willingness to commit criminal acts that separates special interest terrorist groups from other law-abiding groups that often support the same popular issues. By committing criminal acts, these terrorists believe that they can force various segments of society to change attitudes about issues considered important to them.

"The existence of these types of groups often does not come to law enforcement attention until after an act is committed and the individual or group leaves a claim of responsibility. Membership in a group may be limited to a very smeall number of co-conspirators or associates. Consequently, acts committed by special interest terrorists present unique challenges to the FBI and other law enforcement. Unfortunately these types of terrorist acts are growing more prevalent.

"An example of special interest terrorist activity is the February 2, 1992, arson of the mink research facility at Michigan State University. Rodney Coronado, a member of the Animal Liberation front, pled guilty to arson charges on July 3, 1995. The Animal Liberation Front is a militant animal rights group founded in England in 1976."

Coronado was sentenced to 57 months in prison; People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals donated more than $45,000 to his defense.

Hundreds of other cases of vandalism and arson claimed by ALF and other militant animal rights groups have gone unsolved.

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