By now we are all aware of the ongoing water crisis in Flint, Michigan. There are an unacceptable amount of people in the city who are living below the poverty level and also over 60% of them happen to be African Americans. Whole families have been poisoned by drinking water that was never fit to drink, yet they’ve been fed this water for a period of time, and now there are many health problems beginning to show up because of this.
This story is actually not as new as one might think. It was first broken in 2014 that there was potential contamination in Flint’s water system. Al Jazeera America was first to break the story. The story was then largely ignored until recently when Flint became news again with residents showing the news samples of the brown water they are expected to drink, cook and bathe with, and it doesn’t appear to be fit for any type of human consumption.
The homes of Flint residents have been tested and their homes show there are 10 times the amount of lead that is considered the norm. As a result of this, members of the community who would wish to leave will not be able to sell their homes in any move, because it’s illegal to sell a home that has lead issues.
In all of this, it’s amazing that the Governor of Michigan isn’t indeed facing criminal charges over this situation. According to an article in archive.freep.com, Michigan has a 500 plus million dollar surplus, as well as a rainy day fund, yet the governor has said that removing the lead containing pipes is not even a priority to him. There is also strong evidence that he knew about the contamination as early as 2014 when he began shipping cases of bottled water to state employees but not everyday citizens.
When the first attempts to gather clean water for the residents of Flint, an amazing thing happened. Cher revealed, during an interview on CNN that she attempted to gather water for the citizens of Flint, and no American bottled water company was willing to donate any water to the poverty stricken, predominantly black community of Flint. Cher had to go outside of the United States to get water for them.
The Michigan National Guard was called in to distribute the water, but they declined taking it to the so-called worst areas of Flint, saying it would be too dangerous. This from people we would count on to help protect the U.S. during times of war.
The Flint police have also been using this situation to their advantage. According to articles on Bing.com/news and Trofire.com, under the guise of delivering water filters to the residents, they are in fact taking advantage of the opportunity to arrest those residents who have warrants. As an ex-law enforcement person, I do not agree with their actions at all.
According to westsidegazette.com as well as newpittsburgcourier.com, this disaster has indeed been labeled as a man-made disaster caused by the emergency manager that the state installed, in a cost-cutting measure that went horrible wrong, which again leads me to wonder why they are focused strictly on the emergency manager when he is simply a scapegoat meant to do the governor’s bidding.
When the change was made from the Detroit water system to the Flint River in 2014, the residents immediately began to complain about the smell and taste of their tap water, but they were largely ignored according to nytimes.com. Now they can no longer be ignored because they’re too black or too poor to have a voice. The entire world is now aware of what has been done.
Judge Greg Mathis, in an interview with journalist Roland Martin on Newsone Now likened this ordeal to a terrorist attack. “Every day, our homeland security’s biggest fear is terrorists poisoning the water,” Mathis said. “The Secretary of Defense talks nervously about it.” Mathis continues, “In this case, the government has poisoned the water, causing permanent loss of health.”
Mathis also speaks on the possibility of criminal charges in what he calls the poisoning of an American city.
Now there are children experiencing symptoms of lead poisoning, including headaches, anemia, dental problems and their internal organs not functioning properly. Adults are experiencing hair loss, skin disorders, and seizures as well as weakening of teeth and bones along with many potentially fatal cases of Legionnaires’ disease.
This whole situation is remarkably similar to the response to hurricane Katrina where the upscale areas of New Orleans immediately received aid, but those who, like the majority of Flint residents were poor, and less fortunate were left to fend for themselves and die. The same can be said for the residents of Flint.
I read an article on www.mlive.com about the General Motors plant in Flint having ceased using it for fear that it will corrode the metal, yet residents are expected to drink, cook and bathe in that water, and continue to receive water bills for water they can’t use.
I wonder how long this would have been allowed to go on and how quick it would be fixed were Flint an upscale community. Here’s to the hope that they receive justice, and those who perpetrated this tragedy upon the get what they deserve.