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Why This Matters: Mona Hanna-Attisha, the Flint pediatrician who first documented the extremely high levels of lead in the city’s water, says that justice is crucial to the healing process. “I have increasingly come to understand that accountability and justice are critical to health and recovery,” Hanna-Attisha told the Washington Post,“without justice, it’s impossible to heal the scars of the crisis.” She hopes that bringing accountability to the highest powers involved in the crisis will help bring the public some peace, a resource that had eluded the people of Flint even six years later.
When the city switched to a new water source, the government ignored residents’ repeated complaints about health issues caused by city tap water. Michigan Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich recalls, “residents of Flint were repeatedly told they were crazy. They were belittled. They were harmed by the water physically, emotionally.”
Just last year, residents lined up in their cars to receive free bottled water for “World Water Day” simply because itcame from outside of their own hometown. Ananich sympathizes, “I can’t tell somebody they should trust [claims that the water is safe], because I don’t trust them—and I have more information than most people.”
Injustice Runs Deep: Flint’s predominantly white government has had longstanding tension with its predominantly Black populace. The population of Flint is 54% Black, compared to just 14% statewide. The dynamic only added to the pain faced by the residents of Flint, who felt that white politicians had left Black residents behind for the sake of saving money and ignored their pleas for help out of apathy for the local community. Nationwide, Black children are at a higher risk for lead poisoning, even in infancy.
In addition to Snyder, his health department director Nick Lyon and former adviser Rich Baird will also be charged. The exact details of the charges on the three men have not been made public, but already their lawyers have denounced the Michigan Attorney General’s decision. Lyon’s attorney claimed the move would be an “absolute travesty of justice” and Snyder’s representation called it a “smear campaign.”
Nevertheless, many see it as a light at the end of the tunnel. Gina Luster, a community activist, expressed disbelief, “finally, after 7 years of fighting for justice.” Ananich affirmed her relief, “I’ve always said that I think criminal charges are important, because I think it’s criminal what happened to my town.” He believes the indictment will show the people of Flint that “no person, no politician, no one is above the law.”
By Natasha Lasky, ODP Staff Writer California Governor Gavin Newsom announced that he would extend the drought emergency statewide and issued an executive order to have residents conserve water. As part of this effort, eight new counties were added to the state of emergency, and authorized the State Water Resources Control Board was authorized to […]
By Elizabeth Love, ODP Contributing Writer Authorities in the Canadian Arctic territory Nunavut, announced a state of emergency this week due to a possible contamination event affecting the City of Iqaluit’s water supply. Tests were performed after residents reported the smell of gasoline coming from their tap water, but they came back clean. However, […]
By Ashira Morris, ODP Staff Writer For 40 million people living in the Western US, the Colorado River basin is their source of water supply and last month, the federal government declared a water shortage on the river for the first time. Within the basin, Thirty Native tribes have recognized rights to more than one-fifth […]
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