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Vegan protesters storm steak restaurant in Melbourne's CBD

Direct Action Melbourne and Melbourne Cow Save get busy

1 - 1 of 1 posts

robert99 robert99 Sweden Posts: 1360
1 30 Jan 2018

Dozens of vegan protesters stormed a Melbourne steak restaurant on Saturday evening, shouting chants at diners using megaphones.

Thirty-five protesters from activist groups Direct Action Melbourne and Melbourne Cow Save marched into Rare Steakhouse on King Street in the CBD holding graphic posters of cows in slaughterhouses with slogans such as “Steak = violence, death and suffering”.

Footage filmed of the incident show an elderly woman dining at the restaurant slapping away a protestor’s poster, while other diners continued to eat their meals, unperturbed by the scene unfolding around them.

“This is what happened to your steak, this is what happened before their flesh ended up on your plate," one protester can be heard shouting into a megaphone.

Rare Steakhouse's media and marketing manager, Chrissy Symeonakis, said the protesters arrived at the restaurant at about 6.30pm.

"It was just a regular Saturday evening, and we were looking forward to it being a busy night, when a group of protesters marched into the venue and located themselves in the upstairs and downstairs dining areas," Ms Symeonakis said.

"They were holding placards and banners and proceeded to chant and yell about consuming meat. They were filming our diners as they were eating and yelling into their megaphones."

Ms Symeonakis said reactions of customers and staff at the restaurant ranged from "shock to total bemusement".

"Our senior staff members identified who they thought were the ringleaders of the group and approached them and asked them to please leave because they were obviously unwelcome and entered the restaurant with the purpose of disrupting the peace," she said.

"When they refused to leave, the police were called."

Joanne Lee, a member of Direct Action Melbourne, said the group’s aim was to “force animal rights into the public consciousness through non-violent direct action”.

“The reason for going there was because passively asking for the exploitation and the suffering and death of animals to stop isn’t liberating them quick enough,” she said.

Ms Lee said they chose the restaurant because there were two levels and “numbers are pretty good on a Saturday”.

She admitted some diners were “pretty pissed off" by the protest.

“One table was abusive and yelling at us, the other tables were just quietly looking,” she said.

While a number of the Melbourne Cow Save Facebook page supporters lauded the protest as "courageous", the group’s tactics have been met with opposition from other vegans online.

“I'm vegan and honestly I cringe so hard at stuff like this,” said user ‘epicpillowcase’ on Reddit Melbourne.

Ms Lee acknowledged that other vegan groups might be critical of such a confrontational approach.

“We believe that in order to create change in our society we need to challenge our current belief systems and we need to force people to pick a side,” she said.

“If they were selling the bodies of dead puppies in that place and we disrupted it, we’d be getting hailed heroes.”

Ms Symeonakis said new protocols had been put in place should another similar incident occur.

"I understand that they absolutely come from a place of passion, but I think they could have gone about getting their message out there in a better way," she said.

In an unexpected twist, Ms Symeonakis said there had been a silver lining.

"Our social media followers and 'likes' on Facebook have gone through the roof since the video began circulating online," she said.

Police confirmed that they were called to the restaurant about 7pm.

“Protesters left the premises peacefully when asked to do so by the managers of the venue,” a spokeswoman for Victoria Police said. “There were no arrests and no injuries.”

(what's the verdict, fellow vegans? Heroes or Zeros? )