On Sunday, June 6, Ben and Jerry discussed qualified immunity (QI) with the Reverend Al Sharpton on MSNBC. On the subject of police accountability, Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield always speak their mind. The duo came on Rev. Sharpton’s program to talk about police reform. On the show, the co-founders of Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream spoke with Rev. Al Sharpton about why Congress must keep the provision to end QI in the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act (JPA).
“Qualified immunity seems to be at the heart of this country’s police-reform debate,” Rev. Al Sharpton said on his MSNBC program. And qualified immunity, he notes, makes “the pursuit of justice and accountability seem nearly impossible.” This is especially true for Black Americans, who are disproportionately affected by police violence.
QI Is a Lack of Accountability
When it comes to the get-out-of-jail-free card that is qualified immunity, Ben and Jerry aren’t afraid to “call a spade a spade.” They believe the doctrine is a racist policy. They say QI has got to go. Ben tells Rev. Sharpton that QI enables bad cops to get off “scot-free” when they “kill unarmed Black people before our very eyes.”
“It’s crazy,” Ben continues. “It drives me crazy, it drives us crazy.” This frustration compelled Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield to establish the Campaign to End Qualified Immunity.
Ben and Jerry also dispel some common misconceptions surrounding ending qualified immunity. Particularly, that ending QI is “anti-police.” In fact, it’s not. However, this misconception is one of the reasons the JPA has stalled in the Senate. Ben and Jerry clear the air. They indicate how abolishing QI is actually “pro–good policing.”
As Jerry explains to the Rev. Al Sharpton, “Most police serve with dedication and kindness. But not all do.” Ending qualified immunity will only target the bad apples who think they’re above the law. It won’t affect the good cops who do a great job. These good cops don’t require unnecessary—not to mention unethical—protections.
“We need to have justice for the people and accountability for the police,” Jerry concludes. That’s why it’s critical for Congress to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act and overturn the racist doctrine of qualified immunity.
Watch Ben and Jerry discuss QI with Al Sharpton here.