Flint One Year Later: Little Change for Residents, Activists Demand Action

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

News from Progress Michigan

October 5, 2016

Contact: Sam Inglot, 616-916-0574, sam@progressmichigan.org

Flint One Year Later: Little Change for Residents, Activists Demand Action

Years into the Flint Water Crisis, activists continue to see inaction from elected officials

(NOTE: Letter to Snyder below)

LANSING — It’s been one year since Gov. Rick Snyder and state elected officials finally acknowledged the Flint Water Crisis. Activists from Flint came to Lansing today to give an update on how the community is faring years into the crisis without access to safe water and to demand action from elected officials.

“Flint deserves justice and if Republicans think the people of Flint will simply lie down and accept their situation, they’re dead wrong,” said Sam Inglot, deputy communications director at Progress Michigan. “Michigan Republicans have no problem giving away billions in unaccountable tax handouts to corporations, or sending one billion dollars a year to charter schools, or spending $134 million on new offices for the Senate. Where is the same attention to Flint? Where is the help for Flint? It’s nowhere to be found because Republicans in this state have the wrong priorities.”

Despite the national and statewide attention that the crisis in Flint has drawn, very little has changed for residents, who to this day still cannot safely drink their water. Many families continue to rely on bottled water for their daily needs.

“Gov. Snyder recently said that the legislature had other priorities apart from Flint. So what have been those priorities?” questioned Nayyirah Shariff, director of Flint Rising. “They’ve passed medical marijuana reform. They’ve voted to expand the use of off road vehicles. And it’s now legal to have dogs on restaurant patios. How are people in Flint supposed to feel like their lives are valued when the rights of dogs are getting more attention than our right to clean water?”

The inaction does not begin and end in the Republican-controlled Michigan Legislature. In Washington D.C., similar foot-dragging by conservatives has caused delays for critical funding.

“For those with me today and my family — who have been harmed by this crisis and continue to live with it every single day — it’s clear that our elected officials are not treating this like a disaster or an emergency,” said Melissa Mays of Water You Fighting For and Flint Rising.“They’re treating it like it’s an annoyance. Like we’re asking for the world when all we want is clean water. It feels like that in the state, as well as in D.C.”

The funding that recently moved through both levels of Congress is a welcome step forward, but the resources allocated won’t do enough to fix the problem and they’re coming in too slowly. The level of funding for Flint won’t be set until after Congress returns after the November 8th election.

“This crisis has been hard on my kids and children across Flint. They’re innocent in all of this. They can’t vote. They don’t get to choose where they live. And yet, they’re the ones most affected by this crisis,” said Nakiya Wakes of Flint Rising. “We’re tired of waiting for action from the legislature and Congress. We need solutions now. Flint Rising has been saying this from the beginning, and we’ll continue to say it until the problem is resolved: Fix the pipes, reimburse our bills, get us the services we need.”

The Flint activists went to the offices of several legislative leaders, including Gov. Rick Snyder, Kevin Cotter, Arlan Meekhof, and Sen. Jim Stamas, chair of the Joint Committee on the Flint Water Public Health Emergency. The list of demands included the following:

-Immediate allocation of adequate funding to replace the lead pipes that are throughout the city, including funding that reimburses residents for their water bills since April 2014 and for wraparound services to help affected families

-Immediate release of the Joint Committee on the Flint Water Public Health Emergency Report

-Immediate passage of the Freedom of Information Act reform bills that would open up the legislature and governor’s office to public records requests

-Pressure from Michigan’s Republican caucuses on their colleagues in Congress to allocate more federal funding for disaster assistance to Flint

-An end to the use of public tax dollars for Gov. Rick Snyder’s personal legal defense fund

“So I have a message for elected officials in Lansing today: What would you do if this happened in your hometown? What if your family was poisoned with lead? What if you couldn’t safely drink your water? You would not stop standing up and speaking out until you had a solution, and neither will we,” Shariff said.

Read the full letter from Flint Rising below.

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Letter from Flint Rising 

To Gov. Rick Snyder,

It has been one year since you and your colleagues in the Michigan Legislature finally recognized the Flint Water Crisis. That acknowledgement only came after a year of protest from residents that something was wrong with the water.

Despite your claims that the situation in Flint is improving, the people who live there will tell you a different story. To this day, the people of Flint cannot safely drink their water without a filter, many families continue to rely on bottled water for their daily needs, and people still do not trust the state’s response to the crisis.

We are tired of waiting for the level of action that a crisis of this magnitude deserves. We will not rest until the people of Flint have justice and access to clean, safe water directly from their taps.

This crisis is far from over and we’re demanding that as governor and the highest elected official in the state, you take the following actions and pressure your Republican colleagues in the legislature to do the same:

-Immediate allocation of adequate funding to replace the lead pipes that are throughout the city, including funding that reimburses residents for their water bills since April 2014 and for wraparound services to help affected families

-Immediate release of the Joint Committee on the Flint Water Public Health Emergency report

-Immediate passage of the Freedom of Information Act reform bills that would open up the legislature and governor’s office to public records requests

-Pressure from Michigan’s Republican caucuses on their colleagues in Congress to allocate more federal funding for disaster assistance to Flint

-An end to the use of public tax dollars for Gov. Rick Snyder’s personal legal defense fund

Sincerely,

Nayyirah Shariff               Melissa Mays               Nakiya Wakes               10/5/16

 

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