Rare is the company that is proud to tell the world that its founders have just been arrested. But then not every company is structured like the American ice cream brand Ben & Jerry’s.
Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield have never been shy about their politics, an attribute tempered none at all in the 16 years since they sold their company to Unilever, the international consumer goods conglomerate. Although neither founder is formally involved in the business any longer, their progressive values are still reflected in Ben & Jerry’s marketing and and in its products, which have come to include flavors like “Save Our Swirled” (for climate change) and “I Dough, I Dough” (in support of marriage equality).
So when Cohen and Greenfield were among the 300 or so protestors arrested April 18 on the steps of the US Capitol, Ben & Jerry’s proudly announced the news on its website.
The demonstration was organized by Democracy Awakening, which was there to demand an up-or-down vote for US president Barack Obama’s nominee to the Supreme Court, and to push to get big money out of politics. US Capitol police said the protestors were arrested for unlawful demonstration activities (pdf) and were processed on the scene and released.
Ben & Jerry’s own writeup of the account included photos of the protest site, a call to action on social justice issues, and a word from Cohen, who apparently had an inkling of the drama to come:
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.”
But this hasn’t stopped Cohen from also trying to make a difference in the world through frozen desserts. Just this year he independently released a (very) limited edition ice cream in support of Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, the senator from Ben & Jerry’s home state of Vermont. The flavor? Bernie’s Yearning, a mint ice cream topped with a large chocolate disc representing the top 1% of American earners. The message? Break up the rich chocolate, mix it in with the rest of the pint, and share.