File this one under “news of the weird.”
Last week a group of about 30 people were spotted near campus marching for miles behind a chainsaw-wielding “Burger King,” an apparent protest, sponsored by the Union of Concerned Scientists and others, against the fast food chain’s refusal to adopt sustainable agriculture practices across its supply chain. Naturally, the demonstration included a “reenactment” of the effect these supply-side practices have on rainforests… Only, instead of trees, they used human stand-ins.
The City of Austin has temporarily banned public gatherings. Please stay home. The Austin.com calendar is only for live digital events at this time.
It looked a little something like this:
The guy at the start of the video is Ethan Wampler, organizer of this event and member of Green Corps. He was sent to town by a group called Mighty Earth in partnership with the Union of Concerned Scientists, Care2, and SumOfUs. The groups are deeply concerned about the destruction of rainforests around the world, and beef production is one of the driving causes, along with soy and palm oil. Staging protests is part of their campaign to get Burger King to implement supply-side policies similar to McDonald’s, which committed to buying only “sustainable beef” nearly three years ago.
“[This] gathering in Austin is part of a larger national grassroots movement calling for Burger King to join other food companies in working to eliminate deforestation and human rights abuse from its beef, soy, and palm oil supply chains,” he explained in a note sent to media. “Additionally, local students have pledged not to work for Burger King until the Deforestation King abdicates his throne.”
Rallies were also held in Denver, East Lansing, Atlanta, Minneapolis, Miami, and White Plains, where Burger King franchise owners were meeting.
In an email to Austin.com, Wampler explained that one of Burger King’s suppliers, Cargill, is the main offender with regards to deforestation to support beef, soy, and palm oil production. He and fellow organizers have descended on Minneapolis this week, following their appearance in Austin, to keep the pressure on.
For our part, we can’t get the image of the King chainsawing UT students out of our heads. The protesters had a pretty catchy ask, too: “If the clown can do it, why can’t the king?”
Good question. However, Burger King did not respond to a request for comment.