Aussies protest McDonald’s plan for site near national park
BY MAUDLYNE IHEJIRIKA Staff Reporter September 16, 2013 6:53PM
Protest leader Garry Muratore and a small group from Tecoma, Australia, blow up inflatable kangaroos in preparation for their protest in front of the Rock N Roll McDonald's. | Maudlyne Ihejirka~Sun-Times Media
Updated: October 18, 2013 6:14AM
Tecoma, Australia, doesn’t want your Big Mac, Quarter Pounder or McNuggets.
That was the message a group of Aussie protesters, who arrived in Chicago on Monday, had for McDonald’s Corp. over a project halfway across the world.
A proposed McDonald’s near a national park in Tecoma has residents hopping mad. So they brought with them 32 kangaroos — the inflatable kind.
“They won’t meet with us. We’ve come to them,” protester Garry Muratore said.
“The Tecoma site is completely inappropriate for a fast-food restaurant, near a national park, a school, homes. We don’t want the litter or traffic,” he said.
A McDonald’s spokeswoman here said the company thinks the site is appropriate.
Touching down at 5 a.m. — flights paid for by a successful Web crowdsourcing campaign — the Aussies fired their first salvo at the Rock N Roll McDonald’s.
Customers stepping over inflated kangaroos outside the flagship eatery at 600 N. Clark learned all about Tecoma over the course of two hours.
“Kudos to them for fighting,” customer Diane Tolbert said.
“I think it’s great they’re not just rolling over,” said customer Renee Ward.
The protesters will fire a second salvo on Wednesday, when they plan to deliver 93,000 Change.org petition signatures to McDonald’s corporate headquarters in Oak Brook.
“We hope they’ll meet with us,” said Melinda Carey, one of the four Tecomans who traveled here. “A whole town told them no. That should have been enough.”
The city council in the town of 2,000 in the foothills of the Dandenong Ranges east of Melbourne, unanimously voted against the project. McDonald’s sued and won before the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal.
Since then, protesters’ blockades have stalled the project and led to arrests.
“McDonald’s Australia has followed due process every step of the way,” Heidi Barker, a spokeswoman in McDonald’s Oak Brook office, said of the two-year battle. “The area is appropriately zoned and we have an approved planning peremit.”
The protesters, who leave on Friday, raised $36,000 from supporters worldwide in 17 days to make the trip and continue their fight against the global giant.