Protesters Smash the Window of a McDonald's

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Protesters Smash the Window of a McDonald's


By: Pontus Lundahl

Date: June 15, 2001

Source: © Pontus Lundahl/epa/Corbis.

About the Photographer: This photograph was taken by Swedish photographer Pontus Lundahl. This photograph is part of the collection of the Corbis Corporation, headquartered in Seattle, Washington, with a worldwide archive of over 70 million images.


The world began to experience an unparalleled movement of currency, capital, trade, and human resources between nations beginning in the 1950s, a phenomenon referred to as globalization. Globalization implies an international economy where goods and services move across borders without difficulty. Due to its impact on workers and the environment in developing nations, this transfer of resources across borders has fueled debates regarding development and economic theory. Advocates of globalization, led by multi-national corporations (MNCs) and Trans-national corporations (TNCs), argue that the free flow of trade and currency has created an expansion of democracy as well as economic growth and opportunities globally. Those who oppose globalization assert that the globalization trend has allowed multi-national corporations and transnational corporations to engage in unfair labor practices and environmentally detrimental policies in low-income countries, as well as an increase in the income gap between high-income and low-income nation-states. Dissenters in the globalization debate suggest that these corporations are the cause of a decline in standards in developing countries. They assert that the integration of global markets has allowed MNCs and TNCs to pressure low-income countries to relax environmental regulations and labor standards or risk losing jobs and international investment.



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In 1999, in Seattle, Washington, the World Trade Organization met to discuss international trade rules. At this World Trade Organization conference, anti-globalization activists began to protest the disparity of income distribution between developed and developing countries, as well as the environmental impact of globalization. The demonstration, which began as a group of 150–250 demonstrators, swelled to thousands. Members of the group began to block traffic, smash storefront windows and spray graffiti. Continued clashes with police brought a response by the National Guard and police that included tear gas and arrests. The next large scale anti-globalization protests occurred in Prague in September 2000 at the World Trade Organization and International Monetary Fund summit. Prague police estimated that approximately 15,000 protesters were involved in the demonstration, many of which were neutralized by tear gas after trying to enter the summit. At subsequent meetings of international organizations, such as the European Union, activists targeted symbols of globalization in the form of American TNCs like McDonald's restaurants.

In June 2001, members of the European Union (EU) planned to meet in Gothenburg, Sweden. Several issues to be discussed at the summit included the expansion of the EU from fifteen to twenty-seven members. In addition, as U.S. President George W. Bush was to attend the summit, several issues regarding EU—U.S. relations were also on the agenda. The summit was set to establish a joint EU—U.S. declaration on the Middle East, as well as present the EU's displeasure with George Bush's decision to abandon the Kyoto Protocol which deals with environmental issues. As a result, the summit became a target for protesters. As the members of the EU and U.S. met in Gothenburg, Sweden, approximately 25,000 protesters began to congregate near the summit. Demonstrators began to vandalize shop windows, including a McDonald's restaurant, and create makeshift barricades from the tables and chairs taken from outside cafes. Some of the protesters threw stones and firecrackers at the police, leading to the shooting of three protesters and the injuring of police.

However, these protesters are not a cohesive group of likeminded activists. In fact, the protesters are a disparate group each with its own defining cause. Many of the protesters that engaged in violence in Prague and Gothenburg considered themselves anarchists. In addition to anarchists, those loosely incorporated protesters include environmentalists, opponents to free trade, and worker's rights advocates. The groups banded together to create massive displays against globalization, while promoting their own agendas. The groups share information regarding summits and organize to promote their own policies. By creating massive protests that consists of thousands of demonstrators, the groups gain media attention and the attention of those meeting at the various summits.

These protests gained more than publicity for the anti-globalization cause. In 2000, the coffee mogul Starbucks agreed to begin buying a limited amount of coffee determined by the activists to be the product of fair trade.



Ross, Robert J. S., and Anita Chan. "From North-South to South-South." Foreign Affairs (September 1, 2002).

Taylor, Timothy. "The Truth About Globalization." Public Interest (April 1, 2002).

Vayrynen, Raimo. "Anti-Globalization Movements at the Crossroads." Kroc Institute Policy Briefs (November 2000).

Web sites

CNN. "Three Protesters Shot at EU Summit." June 18, 2001. <> (accessed May 26, 2006).

Global Exhange. "Global Exchange and USFT Respond to Starbucks' Fair Trade Announcement." April 29, 2004. <>" (accessed May 26, 2006).

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Protesters Smash the Window of a McDonald's

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