Freep reports an estimated 100 employees of Ford Motor Co. have asked the automaker to reconsider building and selling police vehicles in light of controversy related to police brutality and social justice, the Free Press confirmed late Wednesday.
The issue has been raised with Ford executives by employees during at least one virtual town hall and a series of letters sent to executives since the May 25 death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police.
Over the past six weeks, civil rights protests have roiled the streets of Detroit and cities across the country as debate about police reform grows. Auto executives and business leaders in Detroit have made headlines with calls for racial justice.
Ford, along with General Motors, has taken additional steps to advocate for accountability in recent weeks. Ford also announced plans to pull its social media spending amid calls for action against misinformation and hate speech.
While Ford is not in a position to shape public policy, Ford CEO Jim Hackett and executive chairman Bill Ford have committed to engaging in public dialogue and providing corporate leadership — as has GM CEO Mary Barra and Mike Manley, CEO of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.
Internally at Ford, both Black and white employees have expressed concern in what has been described as a “respectful” and “constructive” manner. Sentiment within the company is viewed as passionate in terms of support for law enforcement as well as communities of color that have expressed fear of violence by law enforcement officers.
“We want to hear and listen to all employees, understand their point of view and be transparent about the actions and positions we are taking,” Mark Truby, chief communications officer at Ford, told the Free Press. “It’s a healthy dialogue.”
The Dearborn automaker has long established itself in the law enforcement community as a trusted supplier of police cars and SUVs, which generate significant revenue for the automaker. The Police Interceptor, a highly modified Ford Explorer, is perhaps the most high-profile current vehicle.
Ford provides about two-thirds of police vehicles in the U.S.
Discussions of civil rights are not viewed by employees solely as a Black issue at the 117-year-old company, which has a long history of investing in the Black community and providing job opportunities when others did not, said a source close to the situation who was not authorized to speak publicly.
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