(This article has been updated to include reporting from the Detroit Free Press.)
A group of Ford employees has reportedly asked company executives to rethink its role in supplying vehicles to law enforcement organizations, making it the first large automotive manufacturer known to be facing internal pressure to change its relationship with American police departments.
The letter, which tipsters revealed to Jalopnik, was reportedly written by a group of employees (approximately 100, per the Detroit Free Press) who are concerned about Ford’s cozy relationship with U.S. law enforcement agencies. It comes in the wake of a message delivered to company employees in early June calling for employees to come forward with suggestions for addressing racial and social injustice. Ford employees have also reportedly raised similar concerns in virtual town halls.
“There is no doubt that the weight of these challenges disproportionately fall on the Black community,” Ford CEO Jim Hackett and Chairman Bill Ford, Jr., said. “We have seen this disparity among our own Ford team members affected by COVID-19, and the legacy of economic disparities in our own home city of Detroit. It is pain that many of our team members have long felt in their daily lives.”
“There are no easy answers. We are not interested in superficial actions. This is our moment to lead from the front and fully commit to creating the fair, just and inclusive culture that our employees deserve,” Ford and Hackett said, promising initiatives aimed at helping employees feel heard and acknowledged.
Ford supplies the overwhelming majority of police-spec vehicles to American agencies at virtually every level of government. Hackett has reportedly said that Ford executives have no plans to change that. The company has also stressed that The Ford Foundation, which contributes to the Black Lives Matter movement, is not affiliated with the company, despite some recent reports to the contrary. Its philanthropic arm is the Ford Motor Company Fund.