Fair warning: This one gets a bit sticky.
Incensed by the “senseless upcharge” at Starbucks for nondairy milk, “Succession” and “Babe” actor James Cromwell and other members of PETA, where he serves as an honorary director, staged a protest Tuesday at a Midtown Manhattan location of the coffee chain.
If anyone wanted him to leave, they were out of luck as he — along with another protester — superglued his hand to the counter in what can best be described as a “glue-in.” PETA live-streamed the protest, which quickly began trending on social media, where the stunt was met with a menagerie of praise and (mostly “Babe”) jokes.
“More than 13,000 customers have asked you,” Cromwell says from the counter. “Now we’re asking: Will you stop charging more for vegan milk? When will you stop raking in huge profits while customers, animals and the environment suffer?”
“Cows produce milk for the same reason humans do: to nourish their young. But in the dairy industry, they give birth and their babies are taken from them almost immediately so that their milk can be sold. Mother cows cry for their infants for days,” adds Cromwell, clad in a black T-shirt emblazoned with the words “Free the animals” and reading from a piece of paper held in his free hand. “They suffer no less than human mothers would.”
As he reads his statement, the masked baristas behind him generally appear to continue working as if there isn’t a 6-foot-7 Oscar-nominated actor attached to the counter — and later they continue to as he leads the other protesters in chanting, “Save the planet, save the cows. Stop this vegan upcharge now.”
Eventually, the police arrive and tell customers the Starbucks is closed — though they can still pick up any outstanding orders. Cromwell and the other glued protester detach their hands from the counter and leave. “They were about to be arrested,” one protester explains in the video.
“We respect our customers’ rights to respectfully voice their opinions so long as it does not disrupt our store operations,” a Starbucks spokesperson said in a statement. “Customers can customize any beverage on the menu with a nondairy milk, including soy, coconut, almond and oat for an additional cost (similar to other beverage customizations such as an additional espresso shot or syrup). Pricing varies market by market.”
PETA has been urging Starbucks to reverse its policy for years. In a statement on its website, the organization notes that several other chains, including Wawa, Panera Bread and Philz Coffee, don’t upcharge for nondairy milk.
“More people than ever before are ditching dairy and going vegan to help animals, save the environment, and improve their own health,” PETA said in a statement. “It’s time that Starbucks stopped charging customers extra for choosing dairy-free milks!”
Cromwell is not the only celebrity battling the added fee for lightening a latte with coconut, soy, oat and almond milk. Sir Paul McCartney recently wrote a letter to Starbucks’s CEO, saying in part, “My friends at PETA are campaigning for this. I sincerely hope that for the future of the planet and animal welfare you are able to implement this policy,” according to PETA. Notably, McCartney did not participate in the glue-in. (In fairness, a handful of adhesive might make it harder to play “Hey Jude.”)
Cromwell has not yet responded to The Washington Post’s request for comment.
While gluing yourself to a surface — or, really, to anything — used to be an accident, it has lately become a popular means of protest. After news broke that Glen Taylor, the majority owner of the NBA’s Minnesota Timberwolves, was forced to kill more than 5 million chickens on his farm to stop the spread of an avian flu outbreak, animal rights activist Alicia Santurio tried to glue herself to the court during a play-in game in April.
Cromwell may be best known as an actor, but he has a long history of activism, dating back to his involvement in the U.S. civil rights movement. As CNN reported in 2004, “Cromwell, a self-described ‘bourgeois white boy,’ joined the radical Black Panther Party by becoming a member of ‘The Committee to Defend the Panthers.’ ”
He took up animal rights as a cause in the 1970s after being horrified by a visit to a Texas stockyard and became vegan after shooting “Babe,” a 1995 Oscar-nominated movie about an orphaned pig trying to find his place on the farm.
On the film, he was “working with a lot of animals and animal trainers. I cared about their welfare and then of course you have lunch and it’s all there in front of you, and I thought I should go the whole hog, so to speak,” Cromwell told Take Part in 2011. “So I made that decision and kept that during the shooting.”
Inevitably, social media soon filled with jokes about the glue-in, most referencing his various roles.
Amy Brown tweeted that “all the succession actors are their characters in real life. jeremy strong IS kendall roy. james cromwell IS leaving cousin greg’s inheritance to greenpeace.”
“Like everything else James Cromwell is in, I’d watch this,” Atlantic journalist Yair Rosenberg tweeted.
One user couldn’t help but think of the end of “Babe,” tweeting, “That’ll glue, pig … that’ll glue.”