(NEXSTAR) — Two activists were arrested on Wednesday after supergluing their hands to the café counters at a Starbucks in Seattle.
The two people were among a group of protestors who entered the coffee shop at the Starbucks headquarters in Seattle to protest the chain’s practice of charging extra for customers who request milk alternatives.
“Save the planet, save the cows, stop the vegan upcharge now!” the activists shouted after making their way to the counter, as seen in a video livestreamed to Facebook by PETA.
“This week, ahead of Earth Day, Starbucks is failing customers and failing the climate,” one of the protestors yells out in the middle of the store. “We’re heading into a climate catastrophe, and Starbucks is still charging up to 80 extra cents for people to get the vegan milk, a sustainable option.”
The duo remained glued to separate counters inside the Starbucks for less than two hours before police officers unglued their hands. A representative for PETA claims the two have been charged with theft of services and destruction of property, but a spokesperson for the Seattle Police Department said neither person was booked or charged at the scene. Both activists were arrested but released after being interviewed and identified, the police spokesperson told Nexstar.
A representative for the prosecutor’s office was not immediately available to confirm the charges against the protestors.
Starbucks has also responded to Wednesday’s incident, telling Nexstar that the company respects its “customers’ rights to respectfully voice their opinions so long as it does not disrupt our store operations.”
PETA’s latest stunt comes three weeks after Paul McCartney, a longtime vegetarian and animal-rights activist, partnered with PETA to urge former Starbucks CEO Kevin Johnson to end the chain’s surcharges for alternative milks. (Previous Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz took over for Johnson, who stepped down in early April.)
“My friends at PETA are campaigning for this to happen … I sincerely hope that for the future of the planet and animal welfare you are able to implement this policy,” McCartney wrote in the letter, in part.
PETA has long campaigned against Starbucks’ surcharge for plant-based milk, arguing that it not only contributes to the support of dairy farmers but unfairly discriminates against vegan customers. Also affected are lactose-intolerant customers, “most of whom are people of color,” PETA has previously said.
Starbucks itself acknowledged in Nov. 2021 that “dairy is the biggest contributor to Starbucks carbon footprint.” At the time, Starbucks said it was working on new approaches to sourcing sustainable dairy, but did not announce any plans to scale back on dairy offerings or make it more affordable for customers who request non-dairy options.
Starbucks locations in the U.S. currently charge extra to customize its beverages with non-dairy milk. A “splash” of the same non-dairy milk can be added to certain coffee beverages free of charge, Starbucks says.