Residents opposed to the building of a McDonald’s restaurant in Melbourne’s East are taking their protest to the US after launching a crowdfunding campaign.
The protesters are raising money to pay for one person to hand a petition, which now has 84,000 signatures, to the McDonald’s head office in Chicago.
The money will also pay for ads in the Chicago Tribune newspaper and on US breakfast television that will attack the fast food chain’s decision to push ahead with a 24-hour drive-through restaurant in the small town of Tecoma, which nestles in the foothills of the Dandenong ranges in Victoria.
Garry Muratore, spokesman for the Burger Off (http://www.burgeroff.org) protest group, told Guardian Australia it had raised more than $20,000 less than a day after launching the funding drive.
“The crowd-funding platform Indiegogo got in touch with us and we are now putting together a media plan,” he said. “This really is a David v Goliath battle. We hope to go over to the US and talk about corporate governance and shown how undemocratic McDonald’s have been.”
Protesters are unhappy that McDonald’s obtained a court order overturning a council decision to block the restaurant. A lengthy standoff on the site was broken last week by more than 50 police officers, who removed people from the roof of a building earmarked to be removed for the restaurant.
Muratore said a survey of every household in Tecoma showed that 92% of residents were against the restaurant, citing concerns that it would be too close to a school and would create noise, extra traffic and litter.
“McDonald’s has behaved reprehensively, taking court action against protesters and spying on them,” he said.
“They love to keep things in court because they can always win those battles but they don’t like things being in the court of opinion. There’s a universal feeling in Tecoma that people detest the way they’ve behaved over this.”
A spokeswoman for McDonald’s said: “We have followed due process every step of the way to build a family restaurant on a highway that houses a number of food and service outlets. The area is appropriately zoned and we have an approved planning permit.
“We have a great franchisee from the area who is about to create 100 local jobs, provide accredited training and work experience. We’re ready to get on with it and know there is much support from within the community.”
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