A Louisiana sheriff's office is boycotting Ford over the automaker's decision to support NFL players' right to peacefully protest during the national anthem.
Sheriff Julian Whittington of the Bossier Parish Sheriff's Office said in a letter to the its dealer, Hixson Ford of Alexandria, that it would no longer buy the company's police vehicles.
"Ford has been a part of American history, and has stood for American values," he wrote. "However, the recent events surrounding the NFL, its players and their audacity to thumb their collective noses at the American Flag, the American military as well as their obvious disdain for the profession of law enforcement in general; forces me to take a stand."
The protests began last year when then-San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick knelt during the anthem to call attention to police brutality against minorities. Last month, President Donald Trump called for teams to fire players who refused to stand for the anthem, prompting a new wave of protests.
Ford Motor Co., a major NFL sponsor, said in a statement it does "respect individuals' rights to express their views, even if they are not ones we share. That's part of what makes America great."
An NFL spokesman said Wednesday that the league does not plan to mandate players stand for the anthem. In a memo to the league's 32 teams, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell wrote: "We believe that everyone should stand for the National Anthem. … We also care deeply about our players and respect their opinions and concerns about critical social issues."
Whittington said the sheriff's office would not do business with Ford "as long as Ford sides with these who have no regard for the men and women who protect and serve this great nation."
The sheriff's office has roughly 300 vehicles in its fleet, including personal watercraft and a riot tank, according to a spokesman. Most of those, however, are patrol vehicles: Ford Police Interceptors, based on the Explorer crossover and Taurus sedan, and Transit van prisoner transport vehicle. The office also uses some Chevrolet SUVs and Dodge pickups.
Ford's ties to the NFL include the naming rights to Ford Field, the home stadium for the Detroit Lions, which is owned by the Ford family.
The sheriff's office is ready to buy a few new vehicles, but it's unclear which company will get its business.
"It is my hope that this letter will cause you to encourage Ford Motor Co. to change their advertising choice and cease to support the NFL with advertising dollars until the NFL leadership demands its players show proper respect for our nation's colors," Whittington wrote.
Hixson Ford of Alexandria did not immediately respond to a call for comment.
It's unclear whether other Ford dealers had lost business because of boycotts. A Ford spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Whittington, in his letter, also encouraged other agencies to take a similar stand against Ford.
"We can no longer stand idly by and allow the fabric of this country to be dismantled," he wrote.