The Vermont Cynic

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Ben & Jerry’s takes a political stance

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Ice cream cones and voices were raised as Black Lives Matter supporters surrounded the front of Ben & Jerry’s on Church Street.

Members of Black Lives Matter Vermont met outside of the scoop shop to show their solidarity for the company Saturday. Ben & Jerry’s announced their support for BLM and received opposition from the police organization Blue Lives Matter.

The company is focused on solving systematic racism, it said in a company statement Oct. 7.

In response to the statement, Blue Lives Matter asked all Americans to boycott the company, according to their website.

“[Our goal is to] honor and recognize the actions of law enforcement to strengthen the public support,” the Blue Lives Matter website states.

Ben & Jerry’s emphasized that their position is not an- ti-police, but is rather about racial equity and black lives, according to their statement.

“This is not about demonizing police officers,” said Chris Miller, Ben & Jerrys’ activism manager. “This is about acknowledging the fact that there is systemic racism that exists in our country. And unless we can acknowledge that, we can’t overcome it.”

Black Lives Matter Vermont decided to rally outside of Ben & Jerry’s after they heard that Blue Lives Matter was protesting the company, said Ebony Nyoni, the Vermont chapter’s president and cofounder.

“Recently, we noticed that an organization called Blue Lives Matter wanted to protest Ben & Jerry’s for supporting Black Lives Matter, and that’s when we decided to take a stance,” Nyoni said.

The event was organized on Facebook by the Black Lives Matter Vermont chapter, she said. Supporters of the movement held Black Lives Matter signs and wore black to show their solidarity.

The crowd was filled with families, students and Ben & Jerry’s workers.

UVM seniors Jessie Gustafson, Phoebe Gunther-Mohr and Eve Drum attended the event after they heard about it on Facebook and through friends, they said.

“I think it’s really important,” Gunther-Mohr said. “I think Vermont talks the talk a lot and I don’t think we really do engage with it that much be- cause there’s really not a lot of disparity in Vermont, but there obviously is some. It’s a very white place with a lot of privilege and a lot that’s not really being investigated.”

This was not the first BLM event the students had attended, they said.

“I’ve gone to a few other events on campus,” Drum said. “I went to the blackout a few weeks ago on campus and I’ve been to a couple of other marches in the past year.”

Over five people spoke in front of the crowd. They expressed their concerns and desires and were met with clapping, chanting and words of support.

It was reinforced that the issue of racial inequality is one that is not “right or left,” but one that is morally unjust, participant Mark Hughes said.

“It is not a right issue or a left issue, it is a right issue or a wrong issue,” Hughes said. “It is not a Republican issue or a Democratic issue, it is a right or a wrong issue. It it is a moral issue, it is disgusting.”

A rally was recently held on campus titled UVM Blackout Sept. 28.

Students and faculty gathered by the Davis Center to show support for the movement.

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Ben & Jerry’s takes a political stance