Actor and longtime animal rights activist James Cromwell super-glued his hand to a Starbucks counter in New York City Tuesday, May 10, to protest the coffee chain’s extra charges for vegan milk.
The “glue-in” protest was organized by PETA, which live-streamed the protest on its Facebook page (Cromwell is also an “Honorary Director” at the animal rights group). The Oscar-nominated actor was posted up on the Midtown Manhattan Starbucks counter for at least a good 35 minutes, leading chants and railing against the living conditions for dairy cows, and the environmental consequences of dairy farming.
Police officers eventually arrived and shut down the store. While most of the protesters dispersed, video showed Cromwell and another man inside the store a little bit longer as they tried to unstick themselves from the counter.
“My friends at PETA and I are calling on Starbucks to stop punishing kind and environmentally conscious customers for choosing plant milks,” Cromwell said in a statement. “We all have a stake in the life-and-death matter of the climate catastrophe, and Starbucks should do its part by ending its vegan upcharge.”
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A Starbucks spokesperson tells Rolling Stone that all demonstrators are treated as customers first, though they said this particular protest violated the store’s “third place policy.” The spokesperson said the demonstration caused “a disruption to our store operation and posed a risk to the safety of themselves and those around them. We respect our customers’ rights to respectfully voice their opinions, so long as it does not disrupt our store operations.”
As for the issue at hand, the spokesperson said the “additional cost” for vegan dairy substitutes was “similar to other beverage customizations like an additional espresso shot or extra syrup, and the pricing varies market-by-market. Adding a splash of any alt-milk to brewed coffee, iced coffee, cold brew, and an americano is free of charge.”
Cromwell’s “glue-in” comes just over a month after Paul McCartney lent his voice to PETA’s campaign over Starbucks’ vegan milk upcharge. “My friends at PETA are campaigning for this,” McCartney said. “I sincerely hope that for the future of the planet and animal welfare you are able to implement this policy.”
This is not the first time Cromwell has taken part in a major PETA protest either. Back in 2017, the actor was arrested at SeaWorld in San Diego after he and other activists disrupted one of the park’s “Orca Encounter” shows in protest of SeaWorld’s infamous and controversial treatment of orca whales.
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