According to the Guardian, as of October 6, 201 African-Americans have been killed by the police in 2016 alone. Though police violence has always been an issue in America, in recent months the country has seen a wave of unarmed black men, women, and children gunned down by authorities, their deaths broadcast on television and social media, and sparking protests across the US.
Born out of the death of Trayvon Martin in 2013—and the subsequent acquittal of his killer, George Zimmerman—Black Lives Matter has existed as a new civil rights movement for the 21st century, seeking justice, equality, and criminal justice reform.
While at times large companies and brands have seemed reluctant to take a stance on the country’s current racial climate, on Thursday, the ice cream company Ben & Jerry’s issues a strong statement in support of the movement, tweeting a Black Lives Matter banner with the words “Choosing to be silent in the face of such injustice is not an option” written in the text.
Though racially-charged, anti-BLM comments quickly flooded the company's mentions ("Never going to buy Ben & Jerry's again,” one user wrote), Ben & Jerry’s also linked to a more in-depth statement on its website. The company broke its position down into two sections—the first explaining “Why Black Lives Matter,” and the second asking its customers to join the company in “not being complicit.”
“It’s been hard to watch the list of unarmed Black Americans killed by law enforcement officers grow longer and longer,” the statement reads. “We understand that numerous Black Americans and white Americans have profoundly different experiences and outcomes with law enforcement and the criminal justice system. That’s why it’s become clear to us at Ben & Jerry’s that we have a moral obligation to take a stand now for justice and for Black lives.”
Though the statement goes to great lengths not to “point fingers at individuals,”—instead focusing on the problem of institutionalized racism—it takes a firm position that “all lives will not matter until Black lives matter.”
“Black lives matter. They matter because they are children, brothers, sisters, mothers, and fathers,” the statement reads. “We’ve come to understand that to be silent about the violence and threats to the lives and well-being of Black people is to be complicit in that violence and those threats.”
The statement is signed “Your friends at Ben & Jerry’s,” and can be read in full here.
[via Ben & Jerry's/Twitter]