Business / Industry News

Ben and Jerry Arrested in Capitol Demonstration

By Dave Fusaro, Editor in Chief

Apr 20, 2016

Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, co-founders of Ben & Jerry's ice cream company, were arrested April 18 along with about 300 others protesting the role of money in politics at the U.S. Capitol.

They took part in ongoing protests by a group called Democracy Awakening. The Vermont ice cream company's website says the purpose of the protests is to make sure everyone's voice is heard "and that power in this country is returned to the people."

U.S. Capitol Police say those arrested were charged with crowding, obstructing or incommoding, which is unlawful demonstration activity, according to Associated Press. They were processed on the scene and released. Police say they've arrested more than 1,200 people since the protests began April 11.

Ben & Jerry's company, which was bought by Unilever in 2000, still maintains an edgy social conscience and a healthy degree of independence from the global ice cream and consumer goods giant. While Greenfield and Cohen are not officers of the company any more, they remain "involved," a spokesperson said. The company unabashedly posted on its website homepage "Why Ben and Jerry Just Got Arrested." Then proudly quoted Cohen as saying, “The history of our country is that nothing happens until people start putting their bodies on the line and risk getting arrested.”

The company statement went on: "Of course, over the years Ben & Jerry’s hasn’t been shy about taking a stand on issues that we care about, even when they’re controversial. You could say that our passion for social justice has been baked right into everything we’ve ever done. We launched Save Our Swirled last year to bring awareness to climate change. In honor of the Supreme Court’s decision last summer to recognize the right of all couples to marry, we changed the name of Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough to I Dough, I Dough.

"It all comes down to a simple idea that we believe in whole-heartedly: If you care about something, you have to be willing to risk it all — your reputation, your values, your business — for the greater good."