18th April, 2020
Four years ago today, our cofounders, 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.
Just Before They Were Arrested
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 link and risk getting arrested.'
Not Shy About Taking a Stand
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. And in order to encourage Londoners to register to vote for the capitals next mayor, we temporarily changed the name of Chocolate Fudge Brownie to Give A Fudge.
One Simple Idea Behind It All
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.
Across the pond, protesting injustice was on the agenda all weekend. We've been in Washington, D.C. with Democracy Awakening, a remarkable event that brought together hundreds of groups and thousands of people in an effort to fix America's broken democracy. There are two trends that everyone from Greenpeace to the NAACP has realised are making it impossible for much good work to get done. The first is the flood of unregulated cash flowing into campaigns and elections. And the second is the wave of attacks in many states on citizens' right to vote.
This is the Beginning of Something Big
Democracy Awakening is just the beginning of a movement to ensure that every American citizen's voice is heard and that power in the US is returned to the people.
So Why Get Arrested?
But 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 America. From mass protests like the March on Washington and 2014's People's Climate March in New York City, to incredibly powerful if quieter and more personal actions like the 1960 Woolworth sit-ins started by four African-American students in Greensboro, NC, 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.