Last year, the Ben and Jerry’s ice cream company took a bold stand against police brutality, with the announcement that they will be selling “hands up, don’t shoot” T-shirts to support victims of police murder. The founders of Ben and Jerry’s posted a picture to their Facebook page, where one of the co-founders of the company can be seen wearing one of the t-shirts.
Our scoop shop managers got to meet THE Ben and Jerry at the annual franchisee/manager retreat! Stay tune to see how our shop will implement Ben’s take on “hands up don’t shoot” campaign to address police brutality and empower children of color.
The post was instantly met with both support and criticism, and co-founder Ben Cohen made the following unapologetic response:
Ben & Jerry’s deeply respects and appreciates all those who protect and serve our communities. We do not subscribe to the narrative that we have to choose between black lives and blue lives. All lives matter. There is injustice rooted in race in our society. This is an important issue and is deserving of efforts from all including businesses, organizations and individuals to further peace and understanding in our communities. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said it best: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. While the Hands Up Don’t Shoot campaign is not being conducted by Ben & Jerry’s business, we support our co-founders as individuals and our independent franchisees to express their values and be activists in their community.”
This week, the ice cream duo took their social change to an entirely new level, going after the government as a whole — and they got arrested seeking it.
On their website, the duo wrote a change-inspiring message about their intentions in D.C. at the “Democracy Spring” protests, noting that democracy “looks great from the outside, but inside it’s a disappointing mess. With corporations and billionaires pouring unlimited, unchecked dollars into politicians’ pockets and new voter restrictions popping up across the country, this is no longer a government of the people and for the people; this is a government of the rich, and for the rich.”
Their well-meaning intentions were unfortunately met with state force.
— Ben & Jerry's (@benandjerrys) April 19, 2016
The CS Monitor reports, the two were among the 300 people arrested and soon released at the US Capitol on Monday, as part of “Democracy Spring” protests that have been taking place for the past week, campaigning for finance reform and voting rights. Many protesters are staunch supporters of Vermont Senator and Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, whom the famous ice cream duo has publicly backed with a variety of initiatives from ice cream itself to illuminated road signs.
After the arrest, a statement was put out on their blog detailing the events of their arrests.
Earlier today, our co-founders, Jerry Greenfield and Ben Cohen, along with hundreds of other activists, were arrested as part of Democracy Awakening’s direct action on the steps of the U.S. Capitol Building.
We spoke to them just before it happened. “The history of our country is that nothing happens,” said Ben, “until people start putting their bodies on the line and risk getting arrested.”
Ben and Jerry’s is well known for speaking out on issues like environmental protection and equal rights for varying cultures, races, genders, police brutality, government corruption, and sexual orientations. Having such a public role in the political realm while owning a business like theirs is truly a show of bravery.
Regardless of their political affiliations, the duo’s intentions are undoubtedly founded in kindness and good will for their fellow human, and they are deserving of commendation.