Calhoun: Wake-Up Call

PETA's anti-McDonald's McCruelty campaign flies the coop, and Denver should be lovin' it

After a six-month battle to place its McCruelty statue -- a giant maimed chicken -- near the McDonald's on the 16th Street Mall, a fight that involved plenty of legal squawking and wing-flapping, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has given up on Denver. The city should be lovin' it.

The City Attorney's Office and PETA have been trading legal filings over McCruelty for months, ever since the Denver Department of Public Works determined that the 250-pound sculpture of the bloody bird constituted a commercial sign and would violate Denver rules.

But the city had allowed such efforts before, PETA countered, pointing to the Cow Parade that had business-sponsored bovines marching down the mall. The most recent deadline for a Denver response was October 21 -- but rather than engage in another round of arguments, PETA has now decided to let this campaign fly the coop.

"After several months of trying to work with Denver officials to display our crippled chicken statue on the 16th Street Mall," PETA's Ashley Gonzales says, "we've decided our campaign resources will be better spent working to place the statue in other cities. PETA finds city officials' nonchalant attitude toward freedom of speech and due process to be troubling, but right now we have to focus on our objective: convincing the public to stop paying McDonald's to break chickens' bones and scald them to death."

That concern doesn't extend to Denver's residents, who still rate praise from Gonzales, just as they did when the protest-pushers initially chose this city for the McCruelty statue, crediting the city's overall niceness. "We have brought our McDonald's Denver before and have gotten a very sympathetic response from the public," PETA senior campaigner Ashley Byrne told Melanie Asmar. "We found that people there are compassionate and don't like to see animals suffering."

The city could use some good news about the mall, since last week it learned it wouldn't be getting a huge federal grant to refurbish it. Compared to missing out on $62 million, the McCruelty fight looks like chickenfeed. Still, Denver should be lovin' this victory while it can -- because you can bet that PETA will be back.


More from our Calhoun/Wake-Up Call archive: "Kristen Stillman: Denver cancels foster-care bill for woman whose kids were fathered by rapist."

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Patricia Calhoun co-founded Westword in 1977; she’s been the editor ever since. She’s a regular on the weekly CPT12 roundtable Colorado Inside Out, played a real journalist in John Sayles’s Silver City, once interviewed President Bill Clinton while wearing flip-flops, and has been honored with numerous national awards for her columns and feature-writing.
Contact: Patricia Calhoun