PETA activist, 13, arrested after allegedly striking Florida deputy during protest in Starbucks

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Authorities in Florida arrested two suspects during a protest at a Starbucks, including a 13-year-old who allegedly assaulted a police officer.

The Orange County Sheriff’s Office said officers responded to the Starbucks located at 16065 New Independence Parkway in Winter Garden at around 1 p.m. on Friday, after a crowd of approximately 15 people inside the store began an organized protest over the upcharge for the vegan alternative to dairy milk, FOX 35 Orlando reported Monday.

“Starbucks management asked that the protesters be trespassed after they refused to leave the store, which is private property, and they wanted to press charges,” the sheriff’s office said. “Deputies gave loud verbal announcements, asking the protesters to leave, and most of them cleared out immediately.”

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The teen, whose name is being intentionally withheld due to his age, was being escorted out of the store when he turned and struck a law enforcement officer, video taken at the scene appeared to show. He was subsequently charged with battery and trespassing.

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The trespass charge is a misdemeanor while the battery charge is a felony.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) shared the video of the incident online and described the 13-year-old as a “PETA activist.” The organization also claimed he was “wrongly arrested.”

Starbucks, in a statement to FOX Business said: “We respect our customers’ rights to respectfully voice their opinions so long as it does not disrupt our store operations.” 

PETA protesters

The boy’s mother, Shannon Blair, also refused to leave the store, as did her boyfriend, Wesley Hucker, who was arrested for trespassing, the sheriff’s office said. Hucker was transported to the Orange County Jail.

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Blair is heard in the video yelling at the officers, who pinned the teen to a table and handcuffed him.

“Don’t touch my child,” she can be heard saying. “Oh my god, oh my god. What are you doing to my child?”

Starbucks logo

“Watching as my son was torn away from me, restrained, and hauled away gave me a glimpse into the horrors of the dairy industry, which takes calves from their crying mothers so that it can sell off their milk. My family was simply asking Starbucks to stop penalizing customers for choosing a kinder option. There was no reason for violence,” Blair added in a separate statement to PETA.

Hucker is scheduled to appear in court on March 27.

*This story has been updated to include a statement from Starbucks. 

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