A cadre of Ford employees have banded together to ask the automaker to stop building and selling police vehicles for the first time in 70 years.
According to automotive website Jalopnik, approximately 100 employees support a letter to CEO Jim Hackett and Chairman Bill Ford asking for the change.
According to a tip in the Jalopnik inbox, a number of Black Ford employees came together to raise concern about their employer’s manufacture of police vehicles. (We have since received clarification that the letter was written composed by a group of Black and white Ford employees.) Ford wouldn’t be the first company to come under scrutiny for making equipment for law enforcement, as folks around the country are raising flags about who gets contracts to produce what for use by police. From small players like bike companies — such as Trek, who makes police bikes — to behemoths like Amazon and its facial-recognition technology a number of companies are facing pressure now, and Ford certainly isn’t the first company with internal revolt. -Jalopnik
According to Jakopnik's source, Hackett "quickly rejected the idea of Ford halting sales of police vehicles."
Ford makes around two-thirds of police vehicles in the US. While the Crown Victoria interceptor was discontinued in 2011, the company makes tons of Explorers, F-150s, Transits, Fusions and Expeditions for law enforcement purposes. As one might suspect, the company gets tons of free publicity from the program - not all of it positive, especially in recent weeks amid national protests over the death of George Floyd after a white police Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for over eight minutes.
Because Ford essentially owns the police market, and because police departments are not going to switch to bikes and scooters anytime soon the automaker probably isn’t in a hurry to jump out of the police car business, even if it wouldn’t send them on a path to bankruptcy. -Jalopnik
Below is alleged text of the letter:
On June 1st, you communicated to the company your commitment to “lead from the front and fully commit to creating the fair, just and inclusive culture that our employees deserve.” We thank you for your leadership on this initiative. We also appreciate and fully support your statement against “superficial actions,” and we write to push for real action by Ford Motor Company to address our role in the structures that perpetuate racism in society.
On May 25th, 2020 George Floyd was murdered by Minneapolis Police, alongside a Ford Police Interceptor. Days later, police officers drove Ford Police Interceptors into crowds of protesters in New York City and Los Angeles. During these past weeks, our vehicles have been used to deploy chemical weapons banned by the Geneva Convention.
Throughout our history, the vehicles that Ford employees design and build have been used as accessories to police brutality and oppression. We know that while many join, support, or supply law enforcement with good intentions, these racist policing practices that plague our society are historic and systemic—a history and system perpetuated by Ford for over 70 years—ever since Ford introduced the first-ever police package in 1950. As an undeniable part of that history and system, we are long overdue to “think and act differently” on our role in racism.
Read the rest of the report here.