For Immediate Release

“This Is What It Was All About” BEN & JERRY’s Co-Founder, Ben Cohen, Cites VT Digger Investigation as the Reason He Risked Arrest to Demonstrate F-35 Jet Blast In Downtown Burlington

“The F-35 basing decision was corrupt,” says Ben Cohen, co-founder of Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream, “The Air Force knew that Burlington was the worst place to base the F-35, but Sen. Leahy pressured them to do it anyway.” 

BURLINGTON, Vt. - On Town Meeting Day, the day Burlington citizens will vote on whether or not to advise the City Council to cancel the F-35 basing and request low-noise-level equipment instead, the VT Digger published an exposé describing the corrupt process that led to the F-35 basing decision in Burlington, Vermont.

According to Air Force officials interviewed in the article: “The Air Force was forced into the Burlington decision” by Leahy. “The data going into the model was flawed from the beginning.”

The article cites internal Air Force documents that show Senator Leahy’s staff “coordinated with military leaders over a media message, conducted post-mortems after public meetings and — according to a Boston Globe report — pushed to “fudge” the numbers during the government’s environmental analysis of Burlington as a potential base.”

Another Air Force official was quoted in the article as saying “Burlington was expected to see the greatest increase in community noise exposure of any site in the running.”

On Saturday, March 3, Ben Cohen, Richard Joseph, and Ray Gouda were arrested for simulating the F-35 jet blast in downtown Burlington.  The team used a sound machine to simulate the 115 decibels of jet blast that the F-35 would project to the ground, approximately 4 times louder than the F-16 flying at the same speed and altitude.  He attached the machine to a trailer and parked it at the intersection of Church Street and Main Street where he played the sound for 6 minutes, the same length of time that people would be exposed to the F-35 jet blast.

“There is no way in words to describe what the F-35 jet blast sounds like,” Cohen said, “for the citizens of Burlington, it’s important that they know what the F-35 will sound like in order to make an informed decision on March 6 when they will have the chance to vote yes on Ballot #6 to request that the cancellation of the F-35 and request low-noise-level equipment instead.”   

“If the F-35 comes to Vermont, the Air Force says that over 6,600 adults and children will live in a zone that the Federal Government declares to be “unsuitable for residential use,” Cohen says, “75 percent of homes in Winooski would become unfit.”  

“The F-35 basing is a moral issue,” says Richard Joseph who was arrested as part of the demonstration, “it is shocking that the Burlington City Council and Mayor have failed to address it. That failure, among other reasons, has made it imperative for us to demonstrate to the citizens of Burlington the reality of the noise contamination the city government plans to impose on the community.”

Over 2,700 Burlington citizens signed a petition to place an initiative on the March ballot to let voters decide what we want for our city and neighbors.

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