Did the Ben & Jerry’s ice cream company recently take a bold stand against the police with the announcement that they will be selling hands up, don’t shoot T-shirts?
On January 19, 2015, Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream co-founder Ben Cohen gave a speech at the company’s annual franchisee meeting, encouraging stores owners to get involved with the Hands Up United campaign and start selling “Hands Up Don’t Shoot” T-shirts:
“There will probably always be injustice and we are outraged and saddened by it. But it is in the act of working to end injustice that we find our hearts, our souls and our joy.”
Shortly after Cohen’s speech, a franchisee in Athens, Georgia posted a photo of co-founders Jerry Greenfield and Ben Cohen along with a message stating that the Ben & Jerry’s outlet in Athens would soon start selling “Hands Up Don’t Shoot” T-shirts:
Cohen’s speech, along with the Athens store’s Facebook photo, led many readers to believe that the Ben & Jerry’s company had partnered with the Hands Up United campaign to start selling T-shirts at Ben & Jerry’s outlets nationwide. The company addressed the confusion in a statement posted to their web site:
All Lives Matter
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 cofounders as individuals and our independent franchisees to express their values and be activists in their community.
Although the Ben & Jerry’s company is not itself selling “Hands Up Don’t Shoot” T-shirts, they also aren’t stopping or discouraging franchise owners from joining the Hands Up United campaign.
It should also be noted Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield no longer run the Ben & Jerry’s company. Cohen resigned as Chief Executive Officer in 1996, and the company was purchased by Unilever in 2000. Although the co-founders remain involved in the company, Greenfield said in 2014 he has “no responsibility, no authority” at Ben & Jerry’s.