Four years ago today, Flint’s water supply was switched to the filthy Flint River. It didn’t take long for people to start noticing a problem: There was brown, putrid-smelling water coming out of their taps. But worse yet, they started to get sick: Their hair was falling out and they developed skin rashes and all sorts of other unexplained medical problems.
But the people of Flint didn’t choose to make this switch. Michigan’s corporate-dominated state government took over the city and changed the water supply to the polluted Flint River — just to save some money.
For four years, residents of Flint have been organizing to restore not only their democracy, but also their basic human right to water. That’s why hundreds of Flint residents are marching on the state capitol in Lansing today.
For four years, Michigan’s Governor Rick Snyder has ignored and trivialized Flint residents’ demands. To add injury to insult, just weeks ago, Snyder ended water aid for Flint. And if that weren’t enough, just days before, his administration granted Nestlé a permit to nearly double its water extraction from a town upstate — for a mere $200 per year. Meanwhile some Flint residents pay up to $200 per month for poison.
The roots of the Flint crisis lie in Michigan’s emergency manager law, which allows the state to install an unelected official to run a city with nearly limitless power to override local government. This disastrous, undemocratic law has been used to systematically suspend democracy in majority Black cities in Michigan like Flint.
This state-imposed emergency management is what led to the switch to the noxious Flint River four years ago today.
While children across Flint suffer the devastating effects of lead poisoning, their own state government repeatedly scoffs at their concerns and refused to fix the crisis it caused — while handing over hundreds of millions of gallons of clean water to Nestlé to sell for a massive profit.
But people in Flint are organizing for their right to water and they will not rest until justice is delivered. Neither will we.
Photo Credit: Michigan Senate Democrats