For a full week, a big black banner was posted from a sidewalk in Berkeley, California. "OCCUPY WHOLE FOODS", it declared in large, white block letters.
But the protesters who created it, a group from the animal rights activist organization Direct Action Everywhere (DxE), were not actually able to do much occupying. Just days before a weeklong protest scheduled for late September, in which the activists had planned to call attention to alleged animal welfare violations by suppliers to Whole Foods' parent company, Amazon, the Berkeley store filed a restraining order.
"We are not allowed to even step foot in the parking lot right now," said Cassie King, a DxE organizer. "We can't go inside the store and ask our questions."
Early that week, the group sang, chanted and beat drums to attract customer attention from sidewalk. But on this quiet Friday afternoon, with the weeklong demonstration nearly over, a few members sat behind tables, megaphones facing down, waiting for interested passersby to approach them. King said they'd had some luck getting customers curious about their signs to walk over. But, when asked, a few different groups of people eating lunch outside the store didn't seem to notice – or care – about what was happening beyond their parked cars. Without access to the inside of the store, it was harder for the demonstrators to get attention.