Ford employees have asked the automaker to stop building police cars, according to a Jalopnik report published Wednesday. The request comes as countless protests continue throughout America and around the globe, sparked by the killing of George Floyd.
“Throughout history, the vehicles that Ford employees design and build have been used as accessories to police brutality and oppression,” workers wrote in a letter to Ford CEO Jim Hackett and Chairman Bill Ford, according to Jalopnik. “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.”
Multiple videos have been published showing law enforcement officers driving Ford Police Interceptors into crowds of protestors at several events throughout the US. While other companies’ vehicles have been similarly used and Ford’s Police Interceptors make up a small portion of the Blue Oval’s overall sales, the Dearborn, Michigan-based automaker sells more police vehicles than any other automaker in the US.
A Ford spokesperson confirmed these reports but declined to comment further.
The letter to Hackett and Ford came from a group of employees that “call for Ford to cease development, production and sale of all custom police vehicles and products.”
Hackett was quick to respond with an internal memo, which Jalopnik also obtained, saying, “It’s not controversial that the Ford Police Interceptor helps officers do their job. The issues plaguing police credibility have nothing to do with the vehicles they’re driving.”
Hackett’s memo continues, “By taking away our Police Interceptors, we would be doing harm to their safety and making it harder for them to do their job. Again, this is why, given our insights, new capabilities and leadership, I believe these unfortunate circumstances present Ford with an even greater opportunity to not only innovate new solutions but also leverage our unique position to support the dialogue and reform needed to create safer communities for all.”
Jalopnik reports that the employee letter asks the automaker to take action by July 15. “Our resources can and should be diverted to other forms of first response and public safety,” the letter said.
Update, 6:10 p.m. PT: Includes confirmation from Ford.
Correction, 8:41 p.m. PT: The original version of this story said that the letter to executives came from Ford’s African-Ancestry Network (FAAN). We have since learned that this is incorrect, and the letter was authored by an independent group of Black and white employees. The text has been edited to reflect this.