Ben & Jerry’s co-founders: Police abuse of Black people is a ‘white problem’

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Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield have been very open about their anti-racism stance and opposition to police violence. 

In a new op-ed piece for USA Today, the founders of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream began the piece by emphatically writing, “When police abuse Black people, it’s not a Black problem. It’s a white problem.” 

“While Black people bear the brunt of police brutality, it’s white people who allow this racism to continue,” they wrote. 

The ice cream makers said that police chiefs across the United States are “overwhelmingly white,” adding that “the people we pay to protect and serve are killing and brutalizing Black people before our very eyes. And we’re letting them get away with it.” 

The op-ed piece detailed a number of police killings including the killing of 23-year-old Breonna Taylor who was shot when Louisville police officers executed a no-knock warrant on her apartment. 

They noted that as white men, their “mothers taught us the policeman was our friend,” adding, “Black mothers have no choice but to teach their children to fear the police.” 

Ben & Jerry’s co-founders Ben Cohen (R) and Jerry Greenfield (L) serve ice cream following a press conference announcing a new flavor, Justice Remix’d, September 03, 2019 in Washington, DC. Ben & Jerry’s launched the new flavor in conjunction with the civil rights organization, Advancement Project, to “spotlight structural racism in a broken criminal legal system”. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

“As uncomfortable as it makes us feel, our inaction feeds and perpetuates injustice,” they wrote. “Some of us claim to be neutral, but the reality is that neutrality preserves the status quo. If we’re not actively fighting against it, we are allowing the horrors to continue. White people need to act. We need to use our power to end injustice.”

The op-ed noted that more than 1,000 people have been killed by police officers since the May 25 murder of George Floyd by former Minneapolis officer, Derek Chauvin — who has since been convicted and sentenced to 22 years in prison. 

The business leaders said that qualified immunity is a contributing factor to police violence. The legal doctrine protects officers from being sued for their personal wealth in cases of misconduct. 

“Now, we’re leading an effort through the Campaign to End Qualified Immunity that includes a coalition of more than 2,000 business leaders, professional athletes, police, and celebrities, as well as dozens of national organizations, including Americans for Prosperity, the ACLU and hundreds of thousands of concerned citizens, to mobilize people in every state to demand integrity, accountability and better public safety,” wrote the founders.

The opinion piece ends with a vision from the founders: that one day Black children can also see police officers in a positive light if white people use their power to hold “rogue cops accountable.” 

Last year, Ben & Jerry’s partnered with Colin Kaepernick and the Know Your Rights Camp and launched a vegan ice cream called “Change the Whirled.” All of Kaepernick’s proceeds from the sale of the dessert go to the camp. 

In announcing the flavor, the company wrote, “We’re honored to be partnering with Colin Kaepernick in this movement to change the world, and we look forward to working together in the fight for justice and racial equity for a long time to come.” 

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