Food by VICE

May Day Protesters Shared Pepsi with Cops by Throwing Cans at Them

The soda has become a weapon of unity, but maybe not in the way that their advertising team had hoped.

by Alex Swerdloff
May 2 2017, 9:10pm

Screengrab via Twitter user @PotReporter

Turns out, nothing goes better with acts of civil disobedience than tepid cans of Pepsi swiftly lobbed at the heads of authority figures.

Last month, we wrote about the hidden hypocrisy behind Pepsi's cringeworthy attempt at co-opting social justice causes to sell soda. Now, roughly one month later, it seems that those who mocked the soda conglomerate's attempt to cultivate itself as the woke protest equivalent of blue jeans to rock 'n' roll may want to rethink a thing or two.

That's because yesterday, Pepsi's now-deleted commercial actually came to fruition IRL in both Portland, Oregon and Seattle, Washington—sort of. The Portland iteration turned violent, while the Seattle version ended up with a bunch of people getting baked.

READ MORE: Pepsi's Protest Ad Is Just One Example of Big Soda's Hidden Hypocrisy

Yesterday, as you probably know, was May Day, also known as International Workers Day. Hundreds of protests took place across the country, with many focusing on the Trump administration's attack on the rights of immigrants and workers alike. A march in Portland was intended to be a peaceful day of protest, but things quickly turned violent. The event was characterized by local police as a riot and devolved into chaos, thanks at least in part to a small group of self-described anarchists utilizing black bloc tactics. A hallmark of their protest? The lobbing of cans at Pepsi in the direction of any and all establishment figures—namely, the police.

Is Pepsi now officially the sardonic weapon of the resistance?

In Seattle, things took a different tack, yet also remained Pepsi-related. There, in what some are describing as an ironic and self-conscious emulation of the Jenner ad, a more peaceful scene prevailed, as pro- and anti-Trump protesters joined together and smoked a metaphorical peace pipe. There were no lobbed Pepsi cans involved, at least according to official reports, but a shared joint, passed among people of varying political persuasions, evoked in the minds of many the saccharine sweetness of the Jenner ad. Social media commenters couldn't help but point out that corporate marketing had, for a fleeting moment, come to life on the streets of the Emerald City. And then, when some protesters actually passed a can of Pepsi to each other, well, things got so meta that even Pepsi's advertising agency couldn't make this shit up.

Is Pepsi a symbol of the status quo or of dissent? An all-American beverage or an icon of multinational corporate greed?

All of the above, it seems.

immigrant rights
worker rights