GB No. 2(13)/94
For more than a year now, young people involved in the activities of the environmental, anarchistic, and pacifist movements in Poland have been conducting an information campaign against McDonald's restaurants. McDonald's is a symbol of the foreign corporations which are invading Poland and trying to set up shop in the old historical sections of Polish cities. Protests focus on the fact that the restaurants produce an excessive amount of waste, goods are generally transported over long distances, the restaurant competes with local Polish restaurants and kiosks, the food is not nutritious, the environmentally-damaging beef habit is encouraged, workers are exploited, and the fast food culture is alien to Poland's tradition of leisurely family meals.
Although McDonalds has made efforts to cut down on packaging, the fact remains that with every meal served, a huge wad of paper goes into the waste bin. The fact that goods are transported over long distances (onions from America, for example) means that unnecessary pollution is being generated and money is flowing out of the local community. The local economy is further harmed movement in Poland is of course also opposed to the emphasis on beef. Many protesters object to the paid propaganda that McDonald's puts out, including efforts to discredit the protesters. For example, a piece was run in a Wrocław paper about the environmentalists' protest, including an interview with a supposed participant, who -- judging from his stupid answers and his photograph -- must have been a skinhead. None of the environmentalists' corrections and protests have been published so far. Finally, there is a lot of resentment about McDonald's' attempts to enter old historical districts. In Kraków, for example, McDonald's was successful in opening a restaurant on Floriańska St. in Old Town, but was (after a bitter fight) finally denied permission to open a restaurant on the Old Town Market Square.
Some of the protests reflect a distinct anti-American sentiment. Take, for example, the "America to the rubbish dump" slogan shouted during an anti-McDonald's action in Gdańsk. Most recently, an international day of protest against McDonald's was held on the 4th of July (the United States' Indepedence Day).
Although most of the protesters would espouse pacifism, some of the protests have not been models of non-violent resistance. Some protesters at a McDonald's in Wrocław were arrested and found to be carrying gas. In a McDonald's in Warsaw someone planted a stinkbomb which prompted a panic and caused some damage. At a protest at a McDonald's in Gdańsk, a marble dust-bin was overturned, and cops arrested a boy (although they couldn't be sure that it was he who had done it). In several cases police treated protesters with unneccesary force. In any case, these events prompted a plea from others in the movement to refrain from violence and vandalism. Some expressed concern that the campaigns provided cost-free advertising for McDonald's (it is true that in some cases, all the publicity has brought even more business to McDonald's).
Due to these campaigns, there has been a lot of noise made about McDonald's, including televsion spots, radio interviews, and photographs and notes in newspapers. According to a protester in Gdańsk, the action may not have brought any considerable result, but it is good that it happened. It's better that people know what the problem is and that Mc Donald's feels threatened and disliked. "Besides, we acted in accordance with our views and this is what really matters."
Above and below:
Posters of the Anarchistic Federation and the Animal Liberation Movement (DESTROY McDonald's; Mc Dollar, Mc Death, Mc Exploitation, Mc Hunger, Mc Profits, Mc Illnesses, Mc Tortures, Mc Waste).