James Cromwell sticks it to Starbucks by gluing his hand to shop counter in protest

A man arrives at a TV show premiere
James Cromwell attends HBO’s “Succession” Season 3 premiere at the American Museum of Natural History in New York.
(Charles Sykes / Invision / Associated Press)

Actor and activist James Cromwell temporarily shut down a Manhattan Starbucks on Tuesday by protesting the coffee company’s upcharge on dairy-milk alternatives.

And he did it by gluing his hand to the barista counter as he read aloud a list of grievances.

“More than 13,000 customers have asked you. 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?” he said in a live broadcast posted on social media, railing against former Chief Executive Kevin Johnson — and presumably interim chief Howard Schultz — and the dairy industry.


“When will you stop penalizing people for their ethnicity and their morals? The senseless upcharge hurts animals,” he added.

The “Succession” star and “L.A. Confidential” veteran was joined by a number of activists with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals who “superglued themselves to the counter” to protest the coffee giant’s additional fees for vegan milk options, according to a tweet from PETA’s account.

The protest continued until New York police officers arrived at the scene and threatened to arrest those who wouldn’t leave. Cromwell eventually unglued his hand and that of another demonstrator at the location before the shop was briefly shut down, TMZ reported.

But he got in plenty of digs before that and detailed how “producing cow’s milk generates three times more greenhouse gases than producing vegan options.”

“If you drink milk, you’re subsidizing the veal industry,” he said, adding, “Starbucks has admitted that cow’s milk is the company’s biggest contributor to its carbon footprint. And Starbucks agrees that vegan milks are a big part of the solution, but it still charges for them.

“Starbucks claims it wants to be more sustainable, but it discourages customers from choosing sustainable products. The company claims to be committed to inclusion and diversity, but it still discriminates against those who can’t have dairy. This exorbitancy disproportionately affects people of color with a much higher rate of lactose intolerance,” he continued.


“Stop this practice of charging customers more for something that should be available to everybody, that saves the planet, that does not harm animals and will make a difference. Your understanding this and your support is essential,” Cromwell said. “We’re here to bring attention to the damage that charging extra money does for animals and the planet and the people living on the planet.”

Wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with the slogan “Free the Animals,” Cromwell was then joined by demonstrators chanting, “Save the planet, save the cows, end the vegan upcharge now” and several others carrying banners urging supporters to text Starbucks to end the surcharge.

A PETA organizer also chimed in during the live broadcast to say that they were voluntarily ungluing their hands from the counter before law enforcement arrived to “be in compliance with the police.”

“We’re not trying to cause too much trouble. We’re just trying to be here at Starbucks so that they know that this charge on vegan milks is not right. And it’s bad for the planet, it’s bad for the animals,” the organizer said.

The Oscar-nominated star’s sticky situation called back to a similar demonstration last month during an NBA game in Minnesota when a woman glued her hand to the court to protest factory egg farms backed by Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor. It’s unclear whether the woman was affiliated with PETA.

Cromwell has been a vegan and animal-rights activist working with PETA since the 1995 film “Babe,” and Tuesday’s protest wasn’t the 82-year-old star’s first brush with the law over his beliefs.


In 2013, Cromwell was detained for disorderly conduct after bursting into a University of Wisconsin-Madison board meeting to protest what he believed was cat torture at the university.

Cromwell was also cited in 2017 for trespassing after he and six other activists interrupted an orca show at SeaWorld in San Diego to stage a protest. That same year, he was sentenced to jail for refusing to pay fines related to his arrest at a protest at a New York power plant.

In 2019, he was charged with disorderly conduct after police said he and another man disrupted a meeting of the Texas A&M University System Board of Regents.

PETA has been campaigning against the dairy industry for some time. As recently as Monday, the organization clapped back at incoming Twitter boss Elon Musk for saying chocolate milk is “insanely good.”

“Drinking cow’s milk is like driving a gas guzzler. The dairy industry is one of the worst contributors to the climate catastrophe. What happened to caring about the environment?” the group tweeted Monday. “Now chocolate oat milk we can get behind.”