The Ford Motor Company has not contributed to “defund the police” efforts in the United States, the company told Heavy in a statement. The Ford Foundation is separate from the Ford Motor Company.
A story from The National Pulse went viral on July 8 claiming that “Ford Motors Makes Millions From Police Cruisers While The Ford Foundation Donates Millions To ‘Defund The Police.’” The National Pulse describes itself as “a Washington, D.C.-based news and new media publication edited by conservative author, reporter, and commentator Raheem Kassam” that “was formed to promote honesty in politics.” Part of the American Principles Project, the site’s “Support Us” page indicates the outlet is “for people who care about social-media bias, curtailing the madness of transgenderism, ending mass abortion, keeping taxes low, and keeping America (and the West) great.”
The Ford Motor Company told Heavy in a statement that the company has no control over the Ford Foundation. The two have operated separately since the mid-1970s. Ford has a charitable arm known as the Ford Motor Company Fund. The company added that it is “America’s long-time leader in producing police, emergency and first responder vehicles.” According to the statement, Ford’s Interceptor is “by far the top choice of law enforcement” in the United States.
The Ford Motor Company Says It Will Continue to Work With Police Forces Through ‘Innovation & Technology’
The statement from Ford added, “To be clear, Ford believes racism, abuse of power and repression in law enforcement must be addressed and stamped out wherever they exist. Good law enforcement agencies and officers play a critical positive role in our communities, but safety and fairness must be inclusive of all, everywhere.”
The statement concluded with the company explicitly stating that neither “Ford Motor Company nor the Ford Motor Company Fund has provided funding to any campaign to ‘defund the police.’” The statement says Ford will aim to help relations between the public and law enforcement through innovation and technology. The company says it will continue to work with local and state police associations “on positive solutions.”
A statement on the Ford Foundation’s website says that the group’s grantees have been “at the forefront” of the Minneapolis City Council’s decision to dismantle the city’s police department. The group’s grantees were also involved in Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti’s decision to cut $250 million from the Los Angeles Police Department’s budget as well as Portland’s decision to remove police officers from the city’s schools.
Henry Ford III Sits on the Board of the Ford Foundation
The Ford Foundation was founded by Henry Ford’s son, Edsel Ford, in 1936. The company was founded with Ford stock originally, but the group divested the stock following the deaths of Henry Ford and Edsel Ford.
The Detroit Free Press reported in February 2019 that Edsel Ford II’s son, Henry Ford III, had been voted onto the board of the Ford Foundation. The Free Press article referred to Ford III as a “rising executive” at Ford. The article added that Ford III’s new role with the Ford Foundation marked the first time that a member of the Ford family had been present on the foundation’s board in more than 40 years.
At the time of Ford III’s election to the board, the foundation’s president, Darren Walker, said, “Although we were established to be an independent institution, our recent efforts in southeastern Michigan have marked a reconnection with the Ford family, coming full circle with Henry’s election to our board.”
Ford Has Been Making Police Vehicles Since 1950 & in 2017 Accounted for 65% of Police Vehicle Sales
A section on the Ford Motor Company’s website dedicated to their range of police vehicles says that the company has been making law enforcement vehicles since 1950 — although in 1921, a Detroit police officer named Kenneth Cox partnered with an engineering student in an unsuccessful attempt to install a police radio into a Ford Model T. The subheadline on Ford’s police page reads, “Proud To Support Those Who Support Our World. Your job has never been tougher. And we’ll be here to help you keep working.”
Ford said in a 2019 press release that the company was seeking to build upon its 65% of U.S. police vehicle sales in 2017.
The Los Angeles Times reported in 2015 that the California Highway Patrol paid $30,0000 for each of the 1,024 Ford Interceptors it bought between 2012 and 2015. That amounts to $30.7 million to the Ford Motor Company. The LA Times article highlighted how important it is to U.S. car manufacturers to have law enforcement use their vehicles. The article highlighted Ford as competing with Dodge and Chevrolet for law enforcement contracts.
A Group of Ford Employees Has Asked the Company to Discontinue the Manufacture of Police Vehicles
Jalopnik reported on July 8 that a group of Ford employees, including members of the Ford-employees African-Ancestry Network, had written a letter asking management to discontinue the manufacture of police vehicles.
The website reported that the company’s CEO, Jim Hackett, told employees he did not think it was “controversial that the Ford Police Interceptor helps officers do their job” and that the company works with law enforcement. The letter sent to Hackett is quoted as asking the Ford Motor Company to “cease development, production, and sale of all custom police vehicles and products.” Workers have given management until July 15 to make a decision.
A letter Hackett sent to Ford employees was published in its entirety by the Detroit Free Press. Hackett said both he and Bill Ford have “said Black Lives Matter.” Hackett continued by saying that Ford’s technology will help law enforcement officers to “protect and serve” as well as to aid more accountability in police departments. The letter concludes with Hackett saying the company will also “continue to be a powerful voice for Black Lives Matter.”
CORRECTION: A previous version of this article reported that the National Pulse article about Ford was written by Raheem Kassam. The National Pulse is edited by Kassam, but the author listed on the article in question is Sloan Rachmuth. The original version also quoted an article from The Conversation about Kassam. We removed the quote and replaced it with a description of The National Pulse in the organization’s own words.