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From the Archives: McDonald's sign toppled

From the Archives: McDonald's sign toppled
Sep. 12, 1984: Daniel Chadwick stands atop McDonald's sign he toppled in North Hollywood. The site was involved in a legal dispute. (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

After a longstanding legal dispute over the location of a 40-foot McDonald’s sign, Daniel Chadwick took action.

A story by staff writer Dean Murphy in the Sept. 13, 1984, Los Angeles Times explains:

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Daniel C. Chadwick had what might be described as the ultimate in a "Mac Attack" this week, awakening in the wee hours of the morning, driving from his Burbank home to a McDonald's restaurant in North Hollywood and then felling one of its 40-foot signs bearing the famous golden arches.

The former pizza shop operator severed the base of the towering sign with a cutting torch, guiding the tumbling golden arches with a rope and crashed them into the restaurant's garbage dumpster.

Chadwick was angered by a longstanding dispute over ownership of and McDonald's right to use the site were the sign stood.

"It was a direct hit," said Chadwick, appropriately dressed Tuesday like a lumberjack in jeans, boots and a flannel shirt. "It is rather symbolic."

The early morning assault Monday at the Lankershim Boulevard restaurant later elicited grins and giggles from some customers, expressions of outrage from McDonald's employees, and a hands-off policy by police. Drive-through customers stared in disbelief as the hefty steel post leaned against a nearby wall and plastic bits of the venerable yellow-and-red trademark littered the restaurant's rear entrance.

"This is just something that you don't think happens today," said Stephen Klein, an attorney for Lankershim Restaurants Inc., operators of the North Hollywood franchise. "This is no Mickey Mouse deal."

Added one amused customer: "Ronald McDonald wouldn't approve."

Police said Chadwick's action was the most dramatic incident in an on-going civil dispute between Chadwick and the North Hollywood restaurant over a parcel of land adjacent to the restaurant. Chadwick, part owner of the land, has tried to block McDonald's use of it as a rear entrance and a site for the 40-foot-tall sign – despite the disapproval of his partner, Bill Momsen, and court rulings favoring the hamburger restaurant.

"It is a business matter," a police spokesman said. "There are no criminal complaints and we don't plan to become involved."

A follow-up story in the Jan. 25, 1985, Los Angeles Times reported:

A San Fernando Municipal Court judge has dismissed a misdemeanor charge against the Burbank man who last September cut down the 40-foot golden arches of a McDonald's restaurant to display his anger over a business dispute with the restaurant.

Daniel Chadwick, 42, of Burbank, was charged with malicious mischief, which carries a maximum penalty of six months in jail and a $500 fine.

Judge Morton Rochman dismissed the charge after finding that Chadwick's right to a speedy trial had been violated, the city attorney's office said.

Anyone charged with a misdemeanor crime has a right to be tried within 45 days of arraignment unless good cause is shown for delaying the case. A spokesman for the city attorney's office would not comment on the reasons for the delay, but said there was good cause.

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The spokesman said Thursday that the city attorney may appeal Rochman's ruling, which was issued Tuesday.

A search of the Los Angeles Times archives turned up no further mention of the case against Chadwick. This photo by staff photographer Al Seib appeared in the Sept. 13, 1984, Los Angeles Times.

This post was originally published May 15, 2015.

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