McDonald’s restaurants offered Metropolitan police reduced-price hamburgers and free hot drinks during the Extinction Rebellion protests, but senior officers warned staff not to “show off,” the documents show.
Franchises also allowed liberal use of their toilets during demonstrations in central London. A police chief hailed this in an internal email as a “convenient” deal that would “allow for short breaks” for patrol officers.
The correspondence, obtained under freedom of information (FoI) laws, shows the Met said restaurants offered its staff a discount on food at “about half price” during the October protests. of 2019.
The force accepted a “very kind offer” of free teas and coffees, and agreed to “exclusive” terms from individual franchisees to use their facilities after 11pm “while XR continues.”
The revelations come as Extinction Rebellion begins a four-day protest in parliament on Friday, calling on ministers to act now to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2025 and an immediate end to all new licenses for fossil fuels.
The emails show the drinks offer applied to six McDonald’s branches in central London. Two branches offered use of ground floor seating areas after 11:00 p.m., the emails show.
A missive from Ch Superpt Helen Harper to Commander Karen Findlay says: “…the location of these stores is convenient for the XR footprint and would allow for short breaks [sic] drinks, baths, etc. without the officers having to return to the stations.”
Harper then told the officers on duty: “To try and offer you a little extra support, we’ve reached out to McDonald’s who have very kindly offered to provide officers with free tea and coffee as XR continues… [I] I have passed on my thanks to McDonald’s, please when you take advantage of their kind offer, please thank them too.”
But the top brass of Britain’s largest force said “no to half-price food”, and Findlay told Harper it was not a good start, warning that the offer of tea and coffee “was not to be boasted of.” “. Free hot drinks were declared by the Met in its presentation of gifts and hospitality.
In the email, Findlay added: “…can you ensure that the offer goes to the staff regarding the following branches, who are not to brag and ensure that [REDACTED] know so they understand that we are doing what we can to help them as they are cold and wet right now! And tired!”
A gift and hospitality statement seen by The Guardian shows an offer of “free teas”. [sic] and coffees” was forcibly accepted at six McDonald’s locations. The Met also accepted an offer of “restaurant areas for the exclusive use of our officers after 11:00 p.m. [11pm]at the Strand and Leicester Square branches, according to the document.
The Met’s gifts and hospitality policy states: “All offers of gifts and hospitality (whether accepted or declined) must be recorded in the locally maintained gifts and hospitality registry.”
The Guardian understands that the decision to offer hot drinks to the Met, as well as the staff discount, lies solely with the individual McDonald’s franchisees and not with the head office.
Extinction Rebellion’s fall uprising in 2019 planned to bring maximum disruption to the capital to draw attention to the climate emergency. Around 1,820 arrests were made between Sunday, October 6, and Friday, October 18, 2019.
The Met dropped more than 100 cases against protesters after a high court ruling outlawed a London-wide ban on any gathering linked to Extinction Rebellion’s autumn uprising.
McDonald’s produces slightly more greenhouse gas emissions than Norway, according to a 2021 report. The fast food chain serves between 1 and 2% of the world’s beef in its 38,000 outlets. According to a 2021 study in Nature Food, beef is responsible for a quarter of all emissions produced by raising and growing food.
An Extinction Rebellion spokesperson said: “The collusion of polluting multinational corporations with the authorities is nothing new. In fact, it’s the reason the government isn’t acting urgently on climate change and signing up to new fossil fuel projects instead.
“It is also the reason why we demand citizens’ assemblies to break this deadlock of corporate capture. We encourage everyone concerned about climate breakdown and our broken democracy to join us this weekend in putting pressure on the government to agree to our demands.”
Kevin Blowe, campaign coordinator for Network for Police Monitoring (Netpol), said: “Obviously, the Met needed a place to feed and drink its officers in 2019 before sending them back onto the streets to illegally restrict people’s rights. to freedom of assembly. .
“Police in Britain like to pretend they are neutral, but they are always more comfortable taking sides with corporate interests. Activists who successfully target climate-destroying companies are immediately seen as a threat that justifies intrusive surveillance.”
The Metropolitan Police have been contacted for comment.
A McDonald’s spokesperson said: “In support of the communities where they operate, some of our restaurants offer support to ad hoc emergency services during large-scale events or emergencies in the area. It is not an official policy and is done at the discretion of the franchisee or restaurant team. However, we offer an official discount to NHS staff across the country.”