14 arrests after animal rights activists blockade McDonald’s depots

Police have arrested 14 people after animal rights activists blocked access to four McDonald’s distribution centres across the UK.

Animal Rebellion used vehicles and bamboo structures to prevent lorries from leaving depots in Hemel Hempstead, Basingstoke, Coventry and Heywood in Greater Manchester on Saturday.

The group is demanding McDonald’s commit to becoming fully plant-based by 2025.

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Hampshire Police said officers arrested eight people on suspicion of aggravated trespass in relation to the protest at an industrial estate off Houndmills Road in Basingstoke.

The seven women and one man, whose ages range from 18 to 51, remain in custody.

Chief inspector Matt Reeves said: “Everyone has the right to free speech and protest, however, officers will take necessary action against the few who deliberately choose to act outside the law.”

Hertfordshire Police said six people were also arrested on suspicion of aggravated trespass, criminal damage and intimidating behaviour.

Animal Rebellion blockade McDonalds distribution sites
Animal Rebellion protesters suspended from a bamboo structure outside a McDonald’s distribution site in Hemel Hempstead (Yui Mok/PA)

Animal Rebellion spokesman James Ozden said protests at Coventry and Heywood ended voluntarily at 10am and 4am on Sunday, respectively.

The protest at Hemel Hempstead was cleared by police at around 3am while the Baskingstoke demonstration ended at about 2am.

Mr Ozden said around 100 people took part in the protests and claimed the action disrupted an estimated 1,900 lorries.

“We’ve also got a report from someone in Manchester that they experienced limited McDonald’s breakfast items due to the protest,” Mr Ozden said.

Greater Manchester Police and West Midlands Police said they made no arrests.

A McDonald’s UK spokesperson said: “Our distribution centres have reopened and are now back to delivering to our restaurants.”

Mr Ozden said the action is aimed at criticising the animal agriculture industry for their part in the global climate crisis.

He said: “The meat and dairy industry is destroying our planet: causing huge amounts of rainforest deforestation, emitting immense quantities of greenhouse gases and killing billions of animals each year.

“The only sustainable and realistic way to feed 10 billion people is with a plant-based food system.

“Organic, free-range and ‘sustainable’ animal-based options simply aren’t good enough.”