Opinion: Green Party congressional candidate Hassig launches 'Occupy McDonalds' campaign; gets kicked off property
Friday, September 28, 2012 - 4:39 pm

To the Editor:

McDonalds is Ground Zero for Industrial Contaminants of Animal Fats Issue.  First Occupy McDonalds Results in No Arrest.  Occupy McDonalds Continues.

I conducted the first Occupy McDonalds in the Market Street restaurant located in the Village of Potsdam, New York.

The experience of going into a retail food sales venue and speaking freely about the presence of industrial contaminants in the animal fat portion of the food supply was very liberating.

Over the course of the past several years, I have conducted educational outreach on the subject of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) contamination of the food supply and the damages to health imposed by POPs exposure at current levels of food supply contamination in supermarkets, drug stores and in McDonalds. 

However, all of these endeavors were limited to standing at various places in these venues holding a text based educational piece such as a poster or a three-fold display board. I did not give a spoken word and dance presentation.

When people asked me to explain what POPs were, I spoke to them.  If no one spoke to me, I stood silently.  There was a great amount of good energy in giving the spoken word and dance presentation to the audience having breakfast in the Potsdam McDonalds. People were smiling in a pleasant way. I could see that several patrons were carefully listening to what I said about POPs contamination, animal fat consumption and disease risk. 

It was a wonderful experience of reaching out to fellow Americans to share health protective knowledge. I am certain that some people learned a considerable amount about the POPs exposure health hazard as a result of my Occupy McDonalds endeavor.

It only takes a little firmness of decision to obtain an opportunity to educate such as described above. During the course of the Occupy, I was approached twice by McDonalds staff telling me that I must leave. I declined to do so and was told that the police would be summoned.  The three officers of the Village of Potsdam Police Department who responded to McDonalds' call for assistance were very professional and well behaved.  I had the opportunity to explain to one of the officers my determination to take a stand on warning the public of the POPs exposure health hazard.  The police stated to me that I was not to return to the Market Street restaurant and that if I did it would be trespassing. They additionally stated that the restaurant staff were awaiting a corporate headquarters decision about pressing charges.  I was free to leave after speaking with the police.

Once I got home, I called the McDonalds customer service toll free number and spoke with a very pleasant female about the Occupy McDonalds.  She listened to everything I said about the presence of POPs in animal fat and the public health benefit of restricting consumption of animal fats.  I pointed out that hamburgers, hotdogs, bologna, sausage, chicken patties, chicken nuggets and other processed meats were particularly high in animal fat content.  I explained that this meant that more POPs exposure was occurring when people consumed these food items. I stated that I wanted to commence a dialogue with McDonalds corporate headquarters personnel on the subject of the POPs exposure health hazard. I requested that as a first step in the creation of this dialogue McDonalds corporate personnel would visit the Cancer Action NY website titled POPs Health Hazard Advisory, and accessed at the URL, http://popshealthhazardadvisory.wordpress.com. The woman that I spoke with apologized for my restaurant experience. I responded that there was no need for an apology because the staff people had done nothing wrong in doing what was necessary to stop me from conducting POPs exposure minimization educational outreach in the restaurant.

I have spoken with officers of the Potsdam Police Department concerning the Occupy McDonalds trespass and my future access to McDonalds restaurants. The police stated that McDonalds had decided not to press charges. They said that I was now persona non grata at the Market Street restaurant, but that there were no limitations upon my normal access to any other McDonalds restaurants. Additionally, the police stated that it would be up to the McDonalds corporate office whether or not further restrictions were imposed. 

I believe that it is my duty as a person with expert knowledge on the subject of the POPs exposure health hazard to continue to conduct Occupy McDonalds events. I will give spoken word and dance performances in the McDonalds restaurants of New York State so as to provide the people who eat hamburgers with a warning of the POPs exposure health hazard. Occupy McDonalds is the perfect way to move forward with protecting public health in a time of industrial contamination of the mainstream food supply.

Donald Hassig

Colton Green Party congressional candidate