The decade's most triggering comedy
Ben & Jerry’s founder Ben Cohen was arrested Thursday in front of the Department of Justice (DOJ) during a protest against the detainment of Wikileaks publisher Julian Assange.
Cohen, a co-founder of the popular ice cream brand, was arrested in Washington, D.C. by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for blocking an entrance to the DOJ. Cohen can be seen in photos from the protest sitting in front of one of the entrances to the DOJ before he was led away in handcuffs by law enforcement.
A left-wing activist group called CODEPINK was demonstrating alongside Cohen. A woman can be seen in photos from the protest holding a pink and black sign reading “Free Assange.” Clouds of pink smoke from the protesters are also visible.
In another photo from the demonstration, Cohen stands next to a large sign reading “Freedom of the Press” that resembles the Constitution. The sign has been lit on fire.
Assange, an Australian activist and hacker, became known in the U.S. during the 2016 presidential election, when he released troves of internal documents from the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and the Clinton campaign on his WikiLeaks website.
The leaks appeared to show that the DNC favored Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders for the Democratic nomination and actively worked to sideline him. After the leaks, DNC chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz resigned, and the DNC apologized to Sanders.
In October, about a month before the 2016 election, Wikileaks started publishing emails from Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta in a daily, slow-drip leak.
Those emails showed that CNN commentator Donna Brazile had shared questions for a CNN town hall ahead of time with the Clinton campaign. Brazile resigned from CNN after the leaks. She had previously served as interim DNC chairwoman in 2011, and after Schultz resigned in 2016, she took that post again.
In May, 2019, a U.S. federal grand jury indicted Assange on 18 counts related to compromising classified information.
Assange is currently in prison in London, where he has been held since April, 2019. The U.S. is attempting to extradite him, but those efforts have been challenged in British courts.
Cohen called Assange’s detainment “outrageous” and said the whistleblower is suffering simply for publicizing the truth.
“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,” Cohen said during the protest, according to CODEPINK.
“It seems to me that, right now, unless things change, and unless we change them, freedom of the press is going up in smoke,” Cohen said.
Ben & Jerry’s has garnered a reputation for being progressive in its messaging.
On July 4, the Vermont-based ice cream company posted that the U.S. “exists on stolen Indigenous land” and called on Americans to “commit to returning it.”
Cohen was previously arrested in 2018 while protesting the noise from Vermont National Guard F-35 fighters.