Lead in drinking water. Do Flint lives matter?

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A donation of clean water is brought to Flint residents from Dearborn, MI. Flint’s water has been poisonous, causing serious health hazards.
PHOTO/ NAYYIRAH SHARIFF

Editor’s Note: On Flint’s bittersweet ‘Victory’ . . . Below are excerpts from a presentation given to the Flint City Council just days before the governor, in a stunning retreat, ordered the discontinuing of the poisonous Flint River as a water source for the city and the return to Detroit’s water system. This is a development that community pastors and the community had been demanding for months. With an entire city exposed to everything from TTHMs to lead and more, Flint is now a poster child for the dismantling of democracy and the fight for water as a human right versus a commodity used for corporate profit.

The city of Flint has eroded public trust and violated the social contract between the residents and their government. The continued inaction of the city and the state of Michigan to resolve this public health crisis has residents wondering, “Do Flint lives matter”?

Our anecdotal stories, individual medical records, and visual aids weren’t enough. We facilitated a study with Marc Edwards, a leading expert on water treatment and corrosion. He discovered the Flint River Water is so caustic it is leaching the lead from the pipes and making its way into our tap water. A study led by physician Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha discovered that since the switch to using the Flint River as our drinking water source, blood lead levels increased among our most vulnerable population, our children. So, do “Flint lives matter?”

For the state and this administration, the answer is “no.” Bond ratings and balanced budgets are more important than the health and welfare of our residents. The decision to use the Flint River was motivated by projected “cost savings” and to balance the budget. This began under the unelected emergency manager, and it continues under Flint’s mayor. This shortsighted fixation over immediate savings will have longterm effects for Flint residents. There has been discussion over the cost to fix Flint’s infrastructure. But what of the medical conditions caused by this ill-fated experiment? What about the kids who have lead in their bloodstream? Or other illnesses that were exasperated by the caustic water that is coming out of our taps?

This administration and the state is more interested in damage control and attempting to downplay this public health crisis than to take bold action to resolve this crime against our community. In a public health crisis you assume everyone is at risk until proven otherwise. Our infants and children cannot afford to be lost in the shuffle. There is a lack of concern for their future. We see the sense of urgency. For us these aren’t throwaway children. Flint lives matter.

Governments topple when people in power work toward the betterment of the few within their inner circle at the expense of the masses.  Revolutions begin when governments prioritize profit over its people.  If this is not resolved, the state of Michigan and this administration will be battling a new revolution led by residents that value people over profit.

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