Filmamker, Michael Moore, known for his Roger & Me documentary on the closing of GM plants in Flint, published a passionate article on TIME’s website entitled “Michael Moore: Flint Poisoning Is a ‘Racial Crime,’ which is also scheduled to appear in the February 1st issue of TIME magazine.
In 2014, under the direction of an Emergency Financial Manager appointed by Govenor Snyder, the City of Flint switched its water supply from Detroit to the Flint River. The switch exposed residents to elevated levels of lead and pathogens found in the river water.
“The people of my hometown are being poisoned,” wrote Moore. “Let me not mince words: This is a racial crime. If it were happening in another country, we’d call it an ethnic cleansing.”
The Flint water crisis unfolded over a period of two years starting in March 2013, when city officials first decided to make a transition from using water from Detroit to joining the Karegnoni Water Authority (KWA). The following month, in what was first proposed as a cost-saving measure, under the authority of Emergency Manager Ed Kurtz, Flint switched to using water from the Flint River while waiting for the transition to KWA to be complete. Immediately after the switch, Flint residents began to complain about the smell, taste, and appearance of the water and health concerns were raised.
Boil advisories were issued that summer when tests showed positive for coliform. GM discontinued using the water after finding that it rusts engine parts built at a plant in Flint. In February 2014, state officials claimed that the water quality had improved, however doctors at Hurley Medical Center reported a spike in lead levels in the blood of children. Even so, Michigan DEQ continued to insist that the water was safe.
Seventeen months after residents began reporting concerns with the water, Gov. Rick Snyder pledged in September 2015, to take action to the lead levels. The following month, Snyder told Flint to return to using water from Detroit and Michigan legislators approve $9.4 million in aid to Flint, for water filters, inpections and testing with $6 million going to help Flint switch back to Detroit water.
Questions were raised over the accuracy of the testing methods used by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, DEQ. At the end of October 2015, Gov. Snyder accepted a resignation by Michigan DEQ Director’s resignation, Director Dan Wyant after a task force found that his department was responsible for the Flint water crisis.
“This is a racial crime. If it were happening in another country, we’d call it an ethnic cleansing. Flint is a very poor, majority African-American city, and the Republican governor of Michigan, Rick Snyder, knows they have no political power, no lobbyists, no money. And they didn’t vote for him.”
On January 14, Snyder asked President Obama for major disaster relief and federal aid for the City of Flint. Two days later, Obama signed an emergency declaration and orders federal aid for Flint. In his State of the State address on January 19, Snyder devote much of the speech to Flint, admitting that he failed Flint residents and that he will make it up to them. Flint residents and advocates are calling for Snyder’s resignation.