On the same day Caddo Parish Sheriff Steve Prator made national headlines for lamenting the imminent release of the “good ones,” inmates his department use daily to wash their cars and cook their food, comments that unmistakably evoked slavery, his colleague next door, Bossier Parish Sheriff Julian Whittington also appeared in the national press.
Whittington had bad news for Louisiana car dealer Dallas Hixson: His office would no longer purchase Ford vehicles from Hixson’s dealership or any other Ford dealership unless Hixson could convince Ford Motor Companies to end all sponsorships and advertisements with the National Football League, a tall task considering the Ford family owns the Detroit Lions and Bill Ford is both chairman of Ford Motor Company and vice chairman of the football team.
Whittington wrote and then published this letter, dated October 11, 2017, on the Bossier Parish Sheriff’s Office’s Facebook page:
The contract is potentially worth several million dollars for both Ford and Dallas Hixson’s business. In 2015, the BPSO spent $346,519 with Hixson Ford, and from 2016 to present, the department has already spent another $747,132. In other words, during the last three years, the BPSO has spent nearly $1.1 million with Hixson, at an average of $25,000 per vehicle.
To be sure, the vast majority of money is made by Ford and not the local dealership, according to an employee of a competing Louisiana-based Ford dealership who spoke on the condition of anonymity. “Although I would need to look at the actual contract to know for certain, typically, the dealership would pocket slightly less than a third of the sales price,” he said. “In this case, I imagine it would be around $320,000 to $400,000, which is not an insignificant amount of money for a dealership in Louisiana. That’s money they invest in building their business and in creating jobs, which is desperately needed because our high sales tax means we are losing private sales to states like Texas.”
In other words, Sheriff Whittington’s publicity stunt has almost no effect on Ford Motor Companies, which reported a pre-tax profit of $10.2 billion last year and a disproportionate effect on a Louisiana-owned small business. It is cynical grandstanding, animated and informed by the same worldview that caused his colleague across the river to bemoan losing the “good” inmates to re-entry. (The Bayou Brief will focus on Prater in an upcoming story).
Whittington grossly mischaracterizes the intention of the protests by NFL players, which is and always has been about calling attention to our country’s inability to honestly confront institutionalized racism, an issue that became impossible to ignore after a string of unarmed black men and boys were killed by rogue law enforcement officers and vigilantes like George Zimmerman; almost all of whom, including Zimmerman, have avoided conviction.
There is a special irony to Whittington’s manufactured outrage. His decision hurts Dallas Hixson, a fellow Louisiana Republican and prominent donor, the most.
During the last ten years, Hixson and his wife have donated more than $152,000 to conservative causes and, almost exclusively, conservative candidates. Hixson is also an occasional guest host on Moon Griffon’s conservative talk radio show.
He beamed on election day last year, posting a churlish video rant on his Facebook mocking anyone and everyone who supported Secretary Clinton. Hixson attempted to delete the video, which had quickly become controversial in Alexandria, but thanks to the magic of the internet, it’s still online.
In the video, ironically, Hixson sarcastically thanks professional athletes who kneeled during the National Anthem and “disgraced” their sport for motivating conservatives to vote for Donald Trump.
Remember, the NFL player protests is a year-old story; these were demonstrations that had occurred last season. And they re-emerged this year only because Donald Trump, fearful that he angered his base by negotiating with Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi on the DREAM Act, showed up at a campaign rally in Alabama for Republican Senate candidate Luther Strange and called African-American players who participated in these protests sons of bitches and suggested they should all be fired.
If Hixson were honest about this, then he would realize that he didn’t lose his contract because of anything that Colin Kaepernick did.
He lost it because a Republican sheriff and a Republican president want to financially ruin American businesses and business owners who respect the rights of African-American professionals to peacefully, silently protest against an administration that apparently believes symbols and songs are more important than human dignity and equal justice under the law.
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