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PETA protest with Chrissy Hynde at McDonald's Credit: Melanie Lei

On May 27, singer Chrissie Hynde and a group of protesters organized in front of the McDonald’s on 40th and Walnut Streets to let people know they’re “hatin’ it.”

The demonstration was part of the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals’ “McCruelty” campaign. According to PETA Vice-President Dan Matthews, the campaign aims to raise awareness of McDonald’s chicken slaughter methods.

“McDonald’s uses a chicken slaughter method in which chickens have their legs and wings broken and in which they are boiled alive in de-feathering tanks,” Matthews said.

Hynde, lead singer of 80’s rock band The Pretenders, had approached PETA about any potential rallies she could lead.

“She told us she has a new album coming out, and she was in New York doing some promotions. We were planning this protest in Philadelphia, so we asked her to come down … Chrissie’s been very generous with her time,” Matthews explained.

Hynde’s presence at PETA rallies is not new. “I’ve been involved for 30 years, all my life,” she said.

Hynde joined PETA in the 80’s and “was one of the first outspoken vegetarians in the music world,” according to Matthews. He added that when Hynde participates in a rally, “she usually kicks it up a notch.”

At the rally, however, her music career came into greater focus than she liked. While signing her autograph on several Pretenders records, she said,“this is getting creepy now — this is a protest about animal cruelty, not about me being a rock and roll star.”

Matthews explained that when people ask for one autograph, Hynde “doesn’t mind doing that ­— but sometimes people come with a stack of 20 things, and a lot of times people who want to sell a star’s autograph and she’s not interested in engaging that.”

According to Penn Police Chief Mark Dorsey, McDonald’s had received notice of the protest one day before. They notified the Penn Police, who in turn notified the Philadelphia Police Civil Affair unit, which speciaizes in conflict resolution.

The civil affairs unit “dispatched a small team to watch and monitor the situation, and because it was in the area, we did the same,” Dorsey said. “It was mainly a plainclothes assignment where they just interacted with the protestors and made sure everything was done safely and according to the law.”

According to Dorsey, the protest went smoothly. “They did exactly what they said they would do – just give out their message for about an hour and a half. They did not block the entrance, and people had access to go in and out of McDonalds. It was a very peaceful gathering,” he said.

Matthews agreed. “The police were really terrific, I have to say. They were really very decent.”

Members of the regional McDonald’s corporation present at the protest handed out press releases stating that “McDonald’s expects humane treatment of animals by our suppliers in every part of the world where we do business” and that they require “food suppliers to do the right thing – for animals, for humans, and for the environment.”

However, Matthews disagreed. “I think that’s all null and void when you look at the fact that McDonald’s own humane advisory panel recommended a functioning, more humane slaughter system and they completely ignored them,” he said, adding, “McDonald’s is just cheap.”

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