Ben Cohen may be a member of the elite 1% in America, but he’s a hippie at heart and always has been up for helping out the other 99%. Although the Ben & Jerry’s ice cream brand he co-founded with buddy Jerry Greenfield is now owned by Unilever, the brand still reflects their left-leaning vision by maintaining a commitment to activism, funded by a foundation to support “social justice, environmental protection, (and) sustainable food systems.” Plus, what makes the world happier than free ice cream? Ben & Jerry’s has been hosting a free cone day every year since it started in 1979.
Well, there’s one group of folks who aren’t too happy with Cohen today: Occupy Wall Street.
Building on Ben & Jerry's stated support of Occupy Wall Street since last October, Cohen personally ponied up $30,000 earlier this year to help the group turn a van into a Batmobile of sorts, only instead of projecting the Bat-logo into the sky, it projects left-leaning messages onto buildings. Dubbed The Illuminator, the van is outfitted with a spotlight on its roof designed to create light graffiti, DNAInfo.com reports. But somewhere on the road, things have gone awry and Cohen has repossessed the vehicle.
Cohen, apparently, wasn’t happy with all the muckraking messaging being projected, however, and now Occupy Wall Street isn’t very happy with him. “He didn’t want to have to bother with the messy part of being in a democracy,” said Mark Read, who “initially proposed The Illuminator idea and helped operate it,” DNAInfo reports. “He’s a 1 percenter telling the 99 percent, ‘I’m your boss.’”
Cohen isn’t commenting, but the OWS folks say he wasn’t happy with the fact that the van wasn’t hitting the streets as often as originally agreed upon and that it was projecting messages for too many other groups rather than solely focusing on communicating the Occupy Wall Street message. Indeed, targets include the jsut opened and Jay Z-backed Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NFL HQ in Manhattan, Adidas during the London Summer Olympics and Donald Trump for his controversial golf course in Scotland.
“We are the 99%, and we will be our own superhero,” OWS said in a statement to DNAInfo. Cohen may have left the protestors hanging, but as New York magazine points out, it’s hard to argue with the guy if you’re talking about building a brand.
The Occupy “Bat Signal” first flashed to life on Nov. 17, with a $10,000 projector used to cast giant phrases like “Occupy Earth” and “99%,” onto the Verizon Building in lower Manhattan while protestors marched over the Brooklyn Bridge.
Now, instead of helping keep the light protests shining, Cohen his support of the Movement Resource Group, which funds Occupy protests including the Illuminators, onto money itself, with a dollar-stamping campaign that aims to spread the message to "Stamp Money Out of Politics," as he explained to Current last week: