By: KYLE CHEROMCHA
A Louisiana sheriff has called for a boycott of Ford Motor Company police vehicles over the manufacturer’s support for NFL players kneeling or otherwise protesting while the national anthem plays before football games.
In an open letter to a local Ford dealership, Sheriff Julian Whittington wrote that the Bossier Parish Sheriff’s Office will “no longer purchase Ford products as long as Ford sides” with the protesting players. The company previously issued a statement in late September saying it respects “individuals’ rights to express their views, even if they are not ones we share. That’s part of what makes America great.”
Sheriff Whittington acknowledges that Hixson Ford of Alexandria wasn’t involved in the corporate decision-making that led to the announcement, but he wants his actions to force a conversation up the chain of command and rattle the gates in Detroit. He claims to be sending the letter to every other sheriff’s office in the state, as well as several national law enforcement groups.
“NFL players have the right to protest as they deem necessary, but we, the Bossier Sheriff’s Office and the taxpayers of Bossier Parish have a right to spend our money elsewhere,” the letter reads.
According to the Shreveport Times, the BPSO bought 29 vehicles from Hixson Ford over the last two years for a total of nearly $750,000. Those purchases included 21 Ford Police Interceptors, four Ford Tauruses, a couple of Ford F-250s, a Ford F-150, and a Ford Explorer. Automotive News reports the office also uses Ford Transit vans as prisoner transports. There are a few Chevrolet Tahoe and RAM trucks running around, but the majority of its 300-vehicle fleet are Fords.
Ford has stronger connections to the NFL than most other automakers. As CNN points out, the company is in the middle of a three-year deal with the league that made the Ford F-Series the “official truck” of the NFL. Members of the Ford family also own the Detroit Lions, who play in the city’s Ford Field.
The office posted an update to their Facebook page yesterday saying that Sheriff Whittington had spoken to the owner of the dealership group, who claims he was unaware of Ford’s statement on the issue and that “such a stance concerns him as well.” However, no mention was made of the boycott being ended. Calls to the sheriff’s office, Hixson Ford, and Ford’s corporate office seeking comment were not returned.
“The men and women of law enforcement make it possible for the Ford Motor Co. to do business in a safe and secure environment,” the letter ends: “It’s time they took a stand for each of them.”