No McDonald’s in Tecoma campaigner Richard Pearson was cleared of the charge of “defacing a public footpath” by a Melbourne Magistrates Court.
After chalking the word “no” with a stylised McDonald’s “M” with a cross through it near the new Tecoma franchise, Pearson was confronted by a leading senior constable from Belgrave police. Police were allegedly called by McDonald’s management in what has been described as a spiteful abuse of police power against the campaign.
Magistrate Armour ruled that Pearson’s chalking could not be deemed as “defacing” according to section 10 of the Summary Offences Act. The charges were dismissed and the police were ordered to pay due costs.
No McDonald’s in Tecoma has been fighting since 2011 to stop McDonald’s building an outlet in the Dandenong Ranges, east of Melbourne. They are concerned about the impact on existing local businesses, its location opposite a primary school, and the demolition of the historic Hazel Vale Dairy, which is currently located on the proposed site.
Pearson says he is pleased with the outcome and that it is a win for him, the community and for free speech.