Michael Moore: How Racism Poisoned Flint’s Water
Flint water — a weapon of mass destruction (not a metaphor). Source.
by Gaius Publius
I'm a former resident of Michigan, in particular, Saginaw and Flint, and in my mind there's never been a question that the Republican and Rick Snyder attack on both Detroit and Flint are racist to the core. There's also no doubt in my mind that the decision to stop Flint from paying Detroit for water was also a way to further punish Detroit, by denying funds to the Detroit water district.
Still, intent is hard to prove, so let's just say that the decision to cut Flint's payments to the Detroit water district had the effect of using one largely minority and emergency-manager-controlled city to hurt another largely minority and emergency-manager-controlled city, intentional or otherwise.
And yes, Rick Snyder should be tried for homicide, negligent or otherwise.
"This is a racial killing"
The racial aspect of this story is widely under-commented. Even the excellent Bernie Sanders, in his recent call for Snyder to resign, did not touch on race. He well could have.
Now comes Michael Moore to let that cat publicly out of the bag. Here's USuncut with the story:
Michael Moore — Flint’s most famous native — is calling out the inherent racism of the policies that led to his hometown’s water crisis.This gets the ball rolling. Time for others to step up.
Michael Moore: “This is a racial killing.”
The result of a decision to switch water sources made under Snyder in June 2013, hazardously high levels of lead, copper, e. coli, trihalomethanes (which are toxic when inhaled, such as in a hot shower) and chlorine in the city’s water supply have created an epidemic of serious, long-term health problems in Flint. The alarming effects of Flint’s contaminated water were immediately apparent and known to public officials in 2014 when the switch was made, but were downplayed by political leaders for over a year.
Michael Moore, who posted a petition for Snyder’s arrest on his website Wednesday, tweeted last month that Snyder “knowingly poisoned a black city”, calling it a “version of genocide.”
This is a racial killing. Flint MI is 60% black. When u knowingly poison a black city, u r committing a version of genocide #ArrestGovSnyder— Michael Moore (@MMFlint) December 20, 2015
Moore held a rally in the city yesterday, where he accused political leaders of intentionally poisoning residents.
“This is not a mistake,” he said. “Ten people were killed here because of a political decision to save money… to risk the lives of people here in a city that is majority African-American, where 41 percent live below the official poverty line. That is what is going on here.”
Moore spoke on the racial disenfranchisement created by state policy in Flint. “It’s a crisis created by the Republican governor and visited on a city that is majority black and majority poor,” he said.
The Racist Use of Michigan's Emergency Manager Law
The article makes a convincing case that Snyder's use of the emergency manager law is prima facie racist. Again:
The shocking racial disparity behind this policy lies in the racial breakdown of Michigan residents whose lives are controlled by appointed emergency managers. In 2013, The Atlantic’s Chris Lewis reported that “while the cities under emergency management together contain just nine percent of Michigan’s population, they contain, notably, about half of the state’s African-American residents.”I hope that the major tellers of this tale tell it all. It's not just the deaths and permanent brain damage; it's the racial targeting that got us there. Not much different from racial targeting by police — except in scale. If a foreign terrorist did this to an entire American city, they'd call the water pictured above a "weapon of mass destruction," as indeed it is.
Last week, Louise Seamster and Jessica Welburn reported for The Root that over the past decade only two percent of Michigan’s white residents have lived under emergency management, compared to over half of black residents.
The cities targeted by Snyder for emergency management reflect the state’s attitude toward the human and democratic rights of African-Americans. Curt Guyette, an investigative reporter for the American Civil Liberties Union in Michigan, discussed the racial composition of cities currently controlled by emergency managers with Amy Goodman on Democracy Now! Friday, saying that “with the exception of one, they are all majority African-American. And they’re also all very poor cities. So this is a racial issue, and it’s a class issue.”
Bernie Sanders, Killer Mike and Martin Luther King, Jr.
A bonus — listen to the end of this interview, Killer Mike talking with Stephen Colbert, about Martin Luther King, Jr. and the once-in-a-generation Bernie Sanders campaign.
Blue America has endorsed Bernie Sanders for president. If you'd like to help out, go here; you can adjust the split any way you like at the link. If you'd like to "phone-bank for Bernie," go here. You can volunteer in other ways by going here. And thanks!