City objects to anti-McDonald's display | Arkansas Blog

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

City objects to anti-McDonald's display

Posted By on Wed, Jun 8, 2011 at 2:07 PM

What is it about local government and free speech?

First the bus company nixed an ad from atheists.

Now Little Rock City Attorney Tom Carpenter has refused to give People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals the OK to post the 5-foot-5-inch anti-McDonald's statue shown here on public right of way near a McDonald's at 7th and Broadway. Cruelty to chickens destined to be chopped up into McNuggets and sandwich and salad makings is the PETA charge. It is denied by the poultry industry, which contends PETA uses scare tactics to encourage vegetarianism.

Anyway, speaking of harm: PETA says it was told that it would be a safety hazard to install its sculpture on Seventh Street.

PETA says it has been allowed to install the protest art in other cities without a problem.

(I wonder if they thought of trying Springdale.)

City Attorney Tom Carpenter, provided a copy of the PETA release, responded:

For the most, this is accurate. The sculpture weighs a couple of hundred pounds, will not be permanently set, and will not be attended. The fact that it is a scalded chicken is of no consequence to the City. Our last letter noted that they could protest, and there is nothing to say that the sculpture cannot be used in that area. For safety purposes, we want it to be attended, movable, not an impediment to traffic, and not in a position that can create a public safety concern near a busy street. They wish to use the location for a temporary period of time as a franchise, and the City has denied it on public safety grounds. We noted, however, that there are numerous alternative means to express their concern. We have no problem with the message; ours is a public safety issue only.

Go to the jump for the PETA release.

PETA's attorneys have fired off a letter to Little Rock City Attorney Thomas Carpenter explaining that the city's excuses for denying PETA a permit to display a sculpture of a crippled chicken with a decidedly anti-McDonald's message is in violation of PETA's free speech rights. The 65-inch fiberglass statue, which was designed by New Yorker cartoonist Harry Bliss, depicts a battered, bloody chicken limping on crutches and bears the inscription "McCruelty: i'm hatin' it." The statue also features PETA's McCruelty campaign logo—the image of a bloody chicken hanging between two golden arches.

"People deserve to know that every time they buy a box of McNuggets, they are paying McDonald's to break chickens' legs and scald the animals to death," says PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman. "Once the city of Little Rock acknowledges PETA's constitutional rights, the crippled-chicken statue will help educate residents about the misery that goes into making every Happy Meal."

PETA originally applied to place the statue at 701 Broadway, but the city responded that it had no authority to grant a permit for that location because the road is a state highway. PETA reapplied for a permit; this time, for a location near a McDonald's on Seventh Street, which is a city street. On June 2, PETA received a letter from Carpenter rejecting the application on public-safety grounds, even though PETA clearly illustrated in its application that the sculpture would not interfere with pedestrian right-of-way and noted that the city has granted countless permits to place similarly sized items—such as benches—on sidewalks. PETA also noted that the chicken statue was on display in Raleigh, N.C., for a month amid parked bicycles, planters, and street furniture without causing harm to passersby.

The statue is intended to represent the millions of chickens killed annually for McDonald's. During slaughter, birds are slammed upside down by their legs into metal shackles—a procedure that often results in broken wings and legs. Birds have their throats cut while they are still conscious, and many are scalded to death in defeathering tanks. PETA wants McDonald's to require its suppliers to switch to a less cruel method of chicken slaughter that has been approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and that is already used by several of McDonald's European suppliers.

PETA's correspondence with Little Rock officials is available upon request. For more information, please visit PETA's website

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