Politics 3 October 2012 Ben & Jerry's support for Occupy Wall Street melts away Ben Cohen wants his van back. Sign up for our weekly email * Print HTML Break-ups are never easy. What was once a perfect match between the liberal ideals of Ben & Jerry's founder, Ben Cohen, and the Occupy Wall Street movement has deteriorated into a bitter feud over a Ford Econoline Van. The honeymoon is most certainly over. It all started last Autumn, when Ben & Jerry’s became the first major company to advocate the Occupy movement, releasing a declaration of support on its website and dishing out free ice cream to protesters in Zuccotti Park. In March, Cohen shelled out some $30,000 for a passenger van dubbed “The Illuminator” to be kitted out with a powerful projector used to beam progressive, anti-capitalist messages onto dozens of buildings around New York. Now, he wants it back. Allegedly, the dispute arose when Cohen repeatedly criticised the van’s volunteer crew and demanded more direct control over its activities. The impasse culminated in a full out custody battle in May. The two sides eventually agreed to share the van until the end of September, with Cohen now moving to repossess it. Mark Read, the brainchild of the “Illuminator” project, claimed: “He’s a 1 percenter telling the 99% ‘I’m your boss’ ”. “I think we all feel kind of betrayed and disappointed”, he added. The quarrel comes after months of discord between OWS activists and their would-be bankrollers; an organisation called the ‘Movement Resource Group’, led by Cohen and other left-leaning corporate figures. Allegedly, the group demanded changes to the Occupy command structure, which the protesters saw as undermining the sacrosanct principles of consensus and mutuality that the movement was founded upon. Other protesters accused Ben & Jerry’s of trying to hijack the movement to promote the brand’s identity as a bastion of liberal values. But as the sun sets on Occupy’s first love affair with a corporate suitor, they remain staunchly pegged to their ideals. “We are the 99%, and we will be our own superhero”, a statement on the Illuminator’s website reads. › New Statesman cover: 5-11 October The "Illuminator". Photograph © Jessie Rocks Alex Ward is a London-based freelance journalist who has previously worked for the Times & the Press Association. Twitter: @alexward3000 Subscribe from just £1 per issue More Related articles Jeremy Corbyn has found a vulnerable spot on Theresa May and trade Politicians are worried that their pensions are destroying the planet. Is yours? Nap Store: Where did all these new mattress start-ups come from?