The co-founders of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream were arrested at the U.S. Capitol Hill on Monday, April 18.
Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield were among the hundreds of protesters who took part in the “Democracy Awakening” protests that took place over the weekend. They were spotted stamping bail money that read “NOT TO BE USED TO BRIBE POLITICIANS.” At first, there were over 300 protesters who took to the nation’s capital. The number rose to well over 1,000 since this past week’s protests.
“‘Democracy Awakening,’ which is closely aligned with the ‘Democracy Spring’ protests earlier this month, mobilized protesters April 16-18 to ‘protect voting rights, get big money out of politics and demand a fair hearing and an up or down vote on President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee,'” the group’s website reads.
— Ben & Jerry’s (@benandjerrys) April 18, 2016
Actress Rosario Dawson was arrested in a similar protest last Friday. The demands of the protesters in these two different rallies are similar in that they demand Congress to remove money from politics and protect voters’ rights.
Since then, over 1,400 people have been arrested on Capitol Hill for participating in both the Democracy Awakening and the Democracy Spring movements. According to the police, 1,240 people have been arrested in the past week, which includes the 300 people that were arrested on the Capitol’s front steps. Most of these other protesters have been charged with unlawful crowding and obstruction of property.
— Michael Slater (@mkslater) April 18, 2016
Both Ben and Jerry were reportedly arrested on the East Front Rotunda Steps of the U.S. Capitol building for unlawful demonstration activities, according to a press release from the police. The men, both 65, were arrested, processed, and later released.
The media has since reached out to Ben & Jerry’s for comment on the situation, but the company has been busy tweeting photos and news about the arrests on social media. They created a webpage on their site that explains why the co-founders were arrested. In addition, the company has released a statement.
“Jerry and Ben and hundreds of others felt that they had to do something more, once the marches and the speeches came to an end. As Ben said, there’s a powerful legacy of direct action in this country. From mass protests like the March on Washington and 2014’s People’s Climate March in NYC, to incredibly powerful if quieter and more personal actions like the 1960 Woolworth sit-ins started by four African-American students in Greensboro, North Carolina, or the protest against Shell Oil.s plan to drill in the arctic by kayakers in Seattle. Sometimes, when something really matters, you have to put your body on the line. You have to take a stand.”
Both Ben and Jerry haven’t been shy when it comes to mixing business with politics. The men have been outspoken about their political views on their website. Last year, Ben & Jerry’s made headlines when they released the special flavor, “I Dough, I Dough” in wake of the Supreme Court’s historic decision to legalize gay marriage.
The Ben & Jerry’s founders have become famous for both their outspoken political activism and their specialty ice cream. Among the others that were arrested during Monday’s protest were top officials of the Sierra Club, Greenpeace, and the ALF-CIO, including NAACP President Cornell Brooks.
— NAACP (@NAACP) April 18, 2016
These protests aren’t going to die down soon. In fact, both the Democracy Awakening and Democracy Spring protesters have been taking to social media to share footage of the arrests and continue to call for activism on Capitol Hill. Some of the activists have also met with top legislators to call for democratic reforms.
Despite the arrests, they believe that peaceful protests and sit-ins will lead to great political change.
[Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images for Ben & Jerry’s]