Ford Foundation donates millions to ‘Defund the Police’ movement

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Editor Note: Law Enforcement Today has received inquiries about the connection between the Ford Foundation and Ford Motor Company.  Below this article, we’ve included information about the Ford Foundation and the historical connection, taken directly from the foundation website which can be found here.

We also had an opportunity to speak with Ford Motor Company on Wednesday and asked them to provide a statement in regards to the relationship between Ford Motor Company and the Ford Foundation.  That statement can also be found below.

The editorial comments are brought to you by a staff writer for Law Enforcement Today.

NEW YORK, NY- Ford Motors built America’s first police cruiser in 1950 and today the company holds roughly 65 percent of the market share for police cars. 

This past May in Detroit, Ford Motors unveiled its newest Police SUV, complete with technology that temporarily raises interior temperatures to help reduce “viral concentrations” inside the vehicle.  In 2019, Bill Gubing, a Ford engineer said about its new Interceptor police vehicle:

“Whether patrolling or sitting idle, the all-new Police Interceptor Utility will change the way officers work. Everything about it was designed for keeping police officers safe, comfortable, and ready for action.”

Meanwhile, in New York City, the Ford Foundation is proudly taking part in the “Defund the Police” movement as mentioned on their website:

“We’ve seen our grantees at the forefront of the change that’s taken place over the last few days–from City Council of Minneapolis’s pledge to dismantle the police department to reimagine the public safety, to Mayor Garcetti’s commitment to divest $250 million of the LAPD’s budget.”

Founded in 1936 by Edsel Ford, the Ford Foundation is one of the country’s most recognized charitable organizations. In 2019, it handed out $500 million in grants to promote a “just, fair, and peaceful world with opportunity for all.”

Now, for the first time since 1976, a member of the Ford Motors dynasty sits on the Board of the Foundation.  Henry “Sony” Ford III, the Director for Investor Relations for Ford Motor Company joined the Foundation’s Board of Trustees in February 2019 to help drive its “racial injustice” agenda.

Mr. Ford oversees grant-making policies, management and governance at the Foundation. He also serves as a public ambassador for the Foundation’s work. The move was aimed at giving the Ford Foundation more legitimacy as it presses forward with its social justice policies, but it could spell trouble for the Ford car company.

Since 2016, Ford Foundation has given roughly $7.8 million to Black Lives Matter and other similar groups through a partnership with Borealis Philanthropy.  These groups are now the public face of the “Defund the Police” movement.  The movement was actually born from a group seeded by the Foundation back in 2015 called Black Youth Project 100 (BYP 100) at the University of Chicago.  Their mission was to “Disband, Disarm, Disempower” the police. 

Since the group’s founding, the Ford Foundation has given them $3.1 million. BYP100 now serves as central command, recruiting protestors, providing professional protestor training, and coordinating protests in cities across the U.S.

The Foundation knows protesters alone cannot strip police departments from coast-to-coast, so the Ford Foundation also pours millions into think-tanks, media outlets, and legal groups to create a public echo chamber preaching the gospel of abolishing the police.  The Brookings Institution, Center for American Progress, Forward Justice, ACLU, Center for Popular Democracy, The Guardian newspaper, and ProPublica make up part of the Foundation’s brain trust.

To understand how the Foundation harnesses its grantees to create a juggernaut like the “Defund the Police” movement, it is helpful to view them as a broker. The Foundation acts as an intermediary between their paid grantees, all of kindred spirits, who work on behalf of the Foundation to change and then to set, American domestic policy. 

In the Foundation’s headquarters of New York City, the “Defund the Police” movement is making headway.  The New York Post reports that since the riots began and calls to defund the police have grown louder, police retirements have climbed 33 percent. 

According to the NYPD, murders are up 23 percent in the city and nonviolent crimes like burglaries and car theft are also escalating. Just last week, the New York City Council placated protesters demands by cutting $1 billion from the NYPD budget.  

In Mr. Ford’s own hometown of Detroit, Michigan, murder is up 25 percent since last year and there have been 271 non-fatal shootings, up 30 percent according to Deadline Detroit.  Detroit’s Police Chief James Craig sees what is happening and in an interview with the Let it Rip news program he said in a statement:

“Detroiters were extremely angry that outsiders converged on their city, bringing with them violence and chaos, all to force leaders to disband their own police.”

Chief Craig says this about the defund protestors:

“There is another agenda being advanced, anarchy. You have to ask yourself why.”

When asked about similar protests in other cities, Chief Craig said:

“There strategy and coordination was very similar, it was planned.”

As the Foundation’s campaign gains traction, the owners of America’s 3,000 Ford dealerships will be associated, by brand, with the efforts to “Defund the Police” in their own hometowns.

Will their defund efforts carried out by the Foundation impact the sale of the new high-tech police vehicles the Ford Motor Company? 

We received the following statement from Elizabeth Kraft, the Commercial Vehicle Communications Manager at Ford Motor Company.:

Ford Motor Company and the Ford Foundation are completely separate entities and have operated independent of each other since the mid-1970s. Ford has no control of the Ford Foundation’s grant-making policies or decisions. Ford’s charitable arm is the Ford Motor Company Fund. 

Ford is proud to be America’s long-time leader in producing police, emergency and first responder vehicles. Our Police Interceptor vehicles are by far the top choice of law enforcement and other emergency services agencies across the country.

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.  

Contrary to some misinformed stories online, neither Ford Motor Company nor the Ford Motor Company Fund has provided funding to any campaign to “defund the police.” Rather, through technology and innovation, Ford will continue to play a positive role in promoting more safety and accountability in policing and produce even safer police vehicles. Ford will continue to work closely with local and state police associations across the country on positive solutions. 

About the origins of the Ford Foundation, per their website:

“In 1936, Edsel Ford—son of Henry, the founder of the Ford Motor Company—established the Ford Foundation with an initial gift of $25,000. During its early years, the foundation operated in Michigan under the leadership of Ford family members. Since the founding charter stated that resources should be used for “scientific, educational and charitable purposes, all for the public welfare,” the foundation made grants to many kinds of organizations.

After Edsel and Henry died in the mid-1940s, their bequests turned the foundation into the largest philanthropy in the world. Henry Ford II, Edsel’s eldest son, assumed leadership of the foundation, and he and the board of trustees commissioned a blue-ribbon panel, led by H. Rowan Gaither, to explore how the foundation could best put its greatly increased resources to use.

The seven-member Gaither Study Committee recommended that the Ford Foundation become an international philanthropy dedicated to the advancement of human welfare through reducing poverty and promoting democratic values, peace, and educational opportunity. In 1949, the trustees unanimously approved the panel’s ambitious recommendations. Over the next decades, Henry Ford II remained a key figure in the foundation, serving as president and as chair and member of the board of trustees and overseeing its transformation from a local Detroit foundation to a national and international organization. He retired as a trustee in 1976.

In 1953, the trustees decided that to fulfill its expanded mission, the foundation should base its operations in New York. The foundation leased space in the city until 1967, when construction of a headquarters building was completed. That iconic building, designed by Kevin Roche John Dinkeloo and Associates, was later designated a landmark.

The foundation is an independent organization, led by a distinguished board of trustees whose 16 members hail from four continents and bring leadership and expertise in a wide range of disciplines. Today we are stewards of a $12 billion endowment, making $500 million in grants around the world every year. Led by Darren Walker, our 10th president, we remain committed to our enduring mission—and to our legacy of bold, creative support for social change.”

A website called New World Encyclopedia argues that there’s no longer a connection between the Ford Foundation and Ford Motor Company:

“After the deaths of Edsel Ford in 1943 and Henry Ford in 1947, the presidency of the Ford Foundation fell to Edsel’s eldest son, Henry Ford II. Under Henry II’s leadership, the Ford Foundation board of trustees commissioned a report to determine how the foundation should continue.

The committee, headed by California attorney H. Rowan Gaither, recommended that the foundation should commit to promoting peace, freedom, and education throughout the world. It provided funding for various projects, including the pre-existing network, National Educational Television, which went on the air in 1952.

However, the Ford Foundation, with the help of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting shut it down and replaced it with the Public Broadcasting Service in October of 1970.

The board of directors decided to diversify the foundation’s portfolio and gradually divested itself of its substantial Ford Motor Company stock between 1956 and 1974. Through this divestiture, the Ford Motor Company became a public company in 1956.

Other than its name, the Ford Foundation has not had any connection to the Ford Motor Company or the Ford family for over 30 years. Henry Ford II, the last family member on the board of trustees, resigned from the foundation board in 1976, encouraging foundation staff to remain open to new ideas and work to strengthen the country’s economic system.”

The Detroit Free Press, however, reported on the connection:

“Signaling an important renewed partnership, a Ford family member is joining the board of the New York-based Ford Foundation for the first time in more than 40 years

The foundation’s board voted Thursday to accept Henry Ford III,  son of Edsel Ford II and a rising executive at the automaker, to the foundation’s board.

The Ford Foundation in recent years has contributed mightily to Detroit’s revitalization, notably by leading philanthropic support for the  Grand Bargain during Detroit’s bankruptcy. But adding a Ford family member to the board can only enhance the partnership between the city and the foundation, a relationship that once was all but dormant.

Henry Ford III is the great-great-grandson of auto pioneer Henry Ford. Now 38, Ford III joined the Ford company in 2006 in labor relations, moved through a variety of assignments in sales and other departments, and now works as manager of the corporate strategy team at the company’s headquarters in Dearborn.”


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