Ben & Jerry’s Founder Arrested During Protest in Support of Julian Assange
Ben & Jerry’s founder Ben Cohen was arrested on Thursday in front of the Department of Justice (DOJ) during a powerful demonstration against the detainment of Wikileaks publisher Julian Assange.
Cohen, a co-founder of the beloved ice cream brand, was taken into custody in Washington, D.C. by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for his role in blocking an entrance to the DOJ. Photos from the protest capture Cohen sitting defiantly in front of one of the entrances before being led away in handcuffs by law enforcement.
Joining Cohen in the protest was the left-wing activist group CODEPINK. One striking image shows a woman holding a pink and black sign that reads “Free Assange,” while clouds of pink smoke billow around her.
“It’s outrageous. Julian Assange is nonviolent. He is presumed innocent. And yet somehow or other, he has been imprisoned in solitary confinement for four years. That is torture. He revealed the truth, and for that, he is suffering, and that’s we need to do whatever we can to help him and to help preserve democracy, which is based on freedom of the press,”
In another powerful photo from the demonstration, Cohen stands beside a large sign that reads “Freedom of the Press,” which eerily resembles the Constitution. Shockingly, the sign has been set on fire, symbolizing the threat to press freedom.
Julian Assange, an Australian activist and hacker, gained notoriety in the U.S. during the 2016 presidential election when he released a trove of internal documents from the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and the Clinton campaign on his WikiLeaks website.
The leaked documents exposed the DNC’s favoritism towards Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders for the Democratic nomination and their efforts to undermine Sanders’ campaign. As a result, DNC chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz resigned, and the DNC issued an apology to Sanders.
In the weeks leading up to the 2016 election, WikiLeaks continued to publish emails from Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta, revealing that CNN commentator Donna Brazile had shared questions for a CNN town hall with the Clinton campaign in advance. Brazile resigned from CNN following the leaks.
In May 2019, a U.S. federal grand jury indicted Assange on 18 counts related to compromising classified information. He has been held in a London prison since April 2019, as the U.S. seeks to extradite him. However, these extradition efforts have faced challenges in British courts.
Cohen passionately denounced Assange’s detainment, calling it “outrageous” and emphasizing that the whistleblower is being punished for exposing the truth. He expressed concern that freedom of the press is under threat and urged for action to protect democracy.
Ben & Jerry’s, known for its progressive messaging, has once again made a bold statement. On July 4, the Vermont-based ice cream company posted on Twitter that the U.S. “exists on stolen Indigenous land” and called for a commitment to returning it.
This is not the first time Cohen has been arrested for his activism. In 2018, he was taken into custody while protesting the noise caused by Vermont National Guard F-35 fighters.
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