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Rock singer leads a protest at McDonald's

Published: Tuesday, Sept. 1 2015 9:03 p.m. MDT

Chrissie Hynde of the group Pretenders walks towards the drive-through Monday to hand out Unhappy Meals as she joins other PETA supporters at a Salt Lake City McDonald's to protest the company's perceived treatment of chickens. (Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News) Chrissie Hynde of the group Pretenders walks towards the drive-through Monday to hand out Unhappy Meals as she joins other PETA supporters at a Salt Lake City McDonald's to protest the company's perceived treatment of chickens. (Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News)

Wearing knee-high black boots and carrying "Unhappy Meals" to pass out to customers, Rock and Roll Hall of Famer and noted animal-rights activist Chrissie Hynde gave a few customers at a local McDonald's a surprise Monday.

Hynde, lead singer of The Pretenders, who performed at Red Butte Gardens on Sunday, helped PETA launch an international billboard campaign targeting the fast-food chain and specifically, its Chicken McNuggets. To help kick off the effort, Hynde joined local and national PETA members outside the McDonald's near 700 East and 250 South to speak to supporters and help pass out literature to the lunchtime crowd.

As part of the new campaign, Hynde will be featured on billboards across the nation with a quote from her: "Birds are scalded to death for McNuggets. I'm hatin' it."

Wearing a red shirt with a picture of the Golden Arches and "McCruelty" and "I'm Hatin' It" written on it, Hynde was joined by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals Vice President Dan Matthews and about 2 dozen PETA members.

Chrissie Hynde, right, of the group Pretenders stands with PETA Vice President Dan Mathews as they join other PETA supporters at a Salt Lake City McDonald's Monday to protest the company's perceived treatment of chickens. (Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News) Chrissie Hynde, right, of the group Pretenders stands with PETA Vice President Dan Mathews as they join other PETA supporters at a Salt Lake City McDonald's Monday to protest the company's perceived treatment of chickens. (Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News)

The group was protesting what it says is the inhumane way chickens used for McDonald's nuggets are killed. Not only could it be done in a more humane way, but the current process has created an "ecological disaster" and put a lot of small-level farmers out of business, Hynde said.

"You support McDonald's, you support factory farming," she said.

Hynde points to McDonald's in Europe, where the company adopted a more humane way of euthanizing chickens used in the meals.

The legendary singer held a poster with a picture of a featherless, scalded dead chicken as patrons entered the restaurant. She helped pass out "Unhappy Meals," boxes made to resemble McDonald's chicken-nugget boxes, but with red paint meant to look like blood on the inside. Others held signs that read, "Boycott McDonald's Cruelty" and "Broken Wings and Legs." She also greeted people as they pulled through the drive-up window.

Chrissie Hynde of the group Pretenders is held up by PETA Vice President Dan Mathews, center, as they join other PETA supporters Monday at a Salt Lake City McDonald's to protest the company's perceived treatment of chickens. (Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News) Chrissie Hynde of the group Pretenders is held up by PETA Vice President Dan Mathews, center, as they join other PETA supporters Monday at a Salt Lake City McDonald's to protest the company's perceived treatment of chickens. (Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News)

Hynde compared McDonald's to the tobacco industry in that she said it tries to cover up how unhealthful McNuggets are.

"You can package anything up and sell it, let's face it," she said.

Hynde said she has been battling the global restaurant chain for years, but it refuses to change in the U.S.

"It's always better to go too far than not far enough. It's better to protect those animals," she said.

When asked if she was concerned some of the ads might gross people out, she replied, "I'm worried that it won't gross people out."

Hynde approached two young men eating hamburgers as they left the restaurant.

Salem resident Chase Palfreyman, who had never heard of her or The Pretenders, said he was not swayed by the campaign. His family owns farmland in Utah and has raised cattle and chickens before. He said he did not notice any effect on the business because of the fast-food chain's practices.

Chrissie Hynde, right, of the group Pretenders walks with PETA Vice President Dan Mathews as they join other PETA supporters at a Salt Lake City McDonald's Monday to protest the company's perceived treatment of chickens. (Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News) Chrissie Hynde, right, of the group Pretenders walks with PETA Vice President Dan Mathews as they join other PETA supporters at a Salt Lake City McDonald's Monday to protest the company's perceived treatment of chickens. (Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News)

Hynde ended her appearance by being raised on the shoulders of others while they chanted, "McDonald's, I'm hatin' it."

e-mail: preavy@desnews.com

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