A small group of animal rights activists descended on a quiet residential street in the Berkeley Hills on Friday to protest how Starbucks charges more for vegan milk than for its dairy offerings.
During the Friday evening event, a protest announcement read, "costumed 'cows' will dump wheelbarrows of manure and plant a sign in the middle of it reading, 'Starbucks’ Vegan Upcharge Stinks!' outside the home of the company’s chief sustainability officer."
The protest was only the latest effort by PETA to get Starbucks to stop charging extra for vegan milk.
In June, the group made headlines when "two PETA supporters, including a Buddhist Monk" were arrested "after supergluing their hands to @Starbucks counters in #Chicago for profiting off of the exploitation and abuse of baby cows and their mothers!"
Friday's protest hit closer to home for Starbucks' chief sustainability officer, who was not present when the demonstration happened. He had been alerted in advance about the group's plans and was on vacation during the event, sources told The Berkeley Scanner.
A neighbor who saw the protest forming said she decided to go out to dinner rather than stick around. She said she saw perhaps a half-dozen people gathered on a nearby corner before the demonstration began.
According to a brief video of the event posted online by PETA, people in cow costumes did indeed dump wheelbarrows of manure into a pile in front of the Starbucks executive's home.
The group of 8-10 people also held signs in English and Spanish while chanting about animal abuse and changes they would like Starbucks to make.
One local resident posted a photograph of the manure pile after coming across it Friday evening during a walk with his dog, Louie, who was not afraid to take a closer look.
"My dog was into the protest," he wrote, "so to speak."
On Saturday, one area resident told The Scanner that the Starbucks executive had knocked on neighbors' doors the day before the protest to let them know what to expect.
She said she had no problem with demonstrations, but that showing up at people's homes to make political points was going too far.
Go to corporate headquarters if that's what you're trying to do, she said.
In the hours after the protest, Berkeley police also responded to the block to document what had happened.
As of Saturday, the manure pile had been cleaned up and transferred into buckets.
And the protest signs had been repurposed for another cause.
"Free manure (horse + cow)," a handmade flier in bold pink and black lettering read. "For your garden."