Protests aimed at Ford planned,Actions are prepared for next 2 Saturdays
June 6, 2003
BY NIRAJ WARIKOO
FREE PRESS STAFF WRITER
Activist groups known for their antiwar and anti-globalization protests will target Ford dealerships this Saturday, including one in Dearborn, in a nationwide campaign to protest Ford's environmental policies.
The demonstrations will be followed next week by an event in front of Ford's world headquarters on Michigan Avenue during the company's centennial celebration, Thursday-June 16.
The protests will be peaceful, say organizers, but may involve acts of civil disobedience by individuals.
"People may feel moved to do something," said Jason Mark, with San Francisco-based human rights group Global Exchange.
Last week, Mark was arrested for hanging a banner in front of a Ford dealership in San Francisco that read, "Ford: Driving America's Oil Addiction."
On Saturday, representatives of Global Exchange and the Rainforest Action Network, also based in San Francisco, will protest in front of the Fairlane Ford dealership on Michigan Avenue.
Members of both groups have participated in a wide range of demonstrations, from the 1999 protests in Seattle against the World Trade Organization to antiwar rallies this year across the country.
An official with Fairlane Ford said the dealership isn't open this Saturday and doesn't plan any response for the protesters.
"You can play touch football on Michigan Avenue on Saturday, there's so little traffic here, so I don't know how much attention they're going to get," he said. "But they have the right to protest. It's a free country."
Mark said organizers will hand out information to visitors at Ford headquarters on June 14 calling upon the automaker to improve gas mileage on its vehicles. They'll also display a 12-foot-diameter inflatable earth with "Ford: You can't recall the planet" on it.
Activists claim that Ford's low gas mileage contributes to America's dependency on oil and to global warming. The Sierra Club said this week it will run ads comparing the old Model T -- 25 miles per gallon -- to the Ford Explorer, which gets 16 miles per gallon.
"We are committed to improving the fuel economy of all of our vehicles. We want to give our customer what they want," Ford spokeswoman Francine Romine said this week. "Judge us on our role as a corporate citizen and not just on one or two factors."
Mark said the protest during Ford's centennial celebration will be a family event and will be aimed at educating people. Some of their planned chants include: "Ford, Ford, you're no good, treat the planet like you should." They may also have protests on June 15 and during Ford's shareholder meeting June 16, he said.
Ford officials said they're not concerned the protestors will disrupt their celebration.
"We're certainly prepared," said John Harmon, corporate news manager at Ford. "But we don't expect" a problem.
The automaker will require all visitors to go through metal detectors before entering the 100th anniversary celebrations, which will take place on the lawns that encircle Ford's headquarters. Temporary fences have been added to the grounds.
Dearborn Police Lt. Walter Anhut and Mayor Michael Guido said they were unaware of any protests planned.
But Mark said Global Exchange has been in contact with Dearborn police about the June 14 demonstration.
Anhut said that Dearborn police have been working closely with Ford for several months.
My first car was a 67 Mustang Coupe, 2nd one was a 67 Cougar XR-7, 3rd one was a 66 Mustang Coupe. Why did I get rid of these cars for ? I know why, because I'm stupid, stupid, stupid.
My next Ford.....