Capitol Hill police arrested the co-founders of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream during protests Monday that were part of week-long demonstrations for the Democracy Spring campaign.
Jerry Greenfield and Ben Cohen were among the estimated 300 protesters arrested Monday, according to Capitol Hill Police. The Democracy Spring demonstrations included mass non-violent sit-ins and protests on the Capitol beginning April 11, ending with the Democracy Awakening effort, which organized teach-ins, direct action training sessions and rallies over the weekend. Some of the key demands of the protests include a fair vote in the Senate on President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland, improved voting rights measures and the reformation of campaign finance laws.
In addition to Greenfield and Cohen’s arrests, other notable figures arrested during the demonstrations included NAACP President Cornell Brooks, Daredevil actress Rosario Dawson and Democracy Spring Campaign Director Kai Newkirk.
Capitol Hill police have estimated that a total of 1,240 arrests were made in relation to the week-long demonstrations, while Democracy Spring has said about 1,400 arrests were made. Those arrested on Monday were briefly detained and fined for crowding, obstructing or incommoding on the East Front Rotunda Steps of the Capitol.
This is not the first time the ice cream businessmen have gotten political. Cohen, well-known for his support of Sen. Bernie Sanders for president, is one of the leaders behind the Stamp Stampede project, a non-profit campaign encouraging people to stamp phrases such as “stamp money out of politics” on US dollars to protest large donations made toward political campaigns.
“The history of our country is that nothing happens until people start putting their bodies on the line and risk getting arrested,” Cohen said in a statement explaining the reason for his protest Monday.
Brooks of the NAACP said he was dedicating his arrest to Martin Luther King Jr. and his grandfather Rev. James Edmund Prioleau, who ran for Congress in 1946 to address voter suppression. Brooks added that during the arrest he wore the red robe from his graduation from the Boston University School of Theology, which was also King’s alma mater.
Dawson was also briefly arrested on Friday and received a $50 fine for joining protesters, The Guardian initially reported.
Dawson, who has recently been a public advocate in support of Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, told The Guardian she was treated well by police and received multiple warnings before her arrest. Democracy Spring has also said it is a nonpartisan effort.
“I wanted personally to be in solidarity with the other folks who put themselves on the line and really just to bring attention to this because I think that’s just vitally important,” Dawson said.