In the face of government inaction, individuals, organizations, unions, doctors and many others are rallying in the defense of the people of Flint. Here are some of those voices. — People’s Tribune
“Children are the most susceptible to lead poisoning because they are rapidly growing and drink more water. Lead crosses the placenta and affects fetuses. 12 million children in the U.S. under 7 years of age are potentially at risk. They live in homes built before 1960, which used lead pipes, although problems have been seen even in homes built up to 1980. Lead causes a myriad of problems in adults too. The worst thing is that what happened in Flint, Michigan was totally preventable. It is an indictment of our public health system, our decrepit water delivery systems, and government that has abandoned those who built this country.” — Salvador Sandoval, M.D., Merced, CA
“Carlos Kemp, a resident of Flint for the past 42 years said it best. ‘The governor and everyone around here wants us to get sick, die or move away from Flint so they can then give our homes to their rich friends.’ This is not a far-fetched idea. As a matter of fact this is something that has already been tried in major cities. Take for example Chicago’s Cabrini Green, once a thriving African American community close to Chicago’s downtown. Its downfall? Being close to downtown. Cabrini Green is no longer around, and neither are the majority of people who lived there, even though promises were made of new homes and mixed-income housing. Cabrini Green is now a vast residential complex with multi-million dollar apartments and shops that cater to those who live in Chicago’s Gold Coast. —Carlos Ginard, Workers United
“The Federal government is rightly finally examining just what is going on in Flint. It should also look at the assorted water crises here in West Virginia and in other states. We need a commitment to upgrading water infrastructure, especially in communities facing public health emergencies by turning on their tap. We had to fight tooth and nail to gain some drinking water protections after our chemical spill, and prior to it. Industry has been lobbying politicians to roll back the post-spill safeguards. We demand our state politicians serve the people’s interest. Methylcyclohexanemethanol (MCHM) and other chemicals are not strangers to the Appalachian water supply. It’s going to take national collaboration to solve these national problems.“— Paula Swearengin, Direct Action Welfare Group and the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition in West Virginia
“On January 30, Arielle Maldonado and I traveled to Flint, MI from Chicago to distribute cases of water to families in need. We started on the East side. We distributed water and copies of the Peopleʼs Tribune newspaper to those who opened the door. Some people said they had more than enough water. We drove a few blocks down. We met Jason Johnson and Rick Ruiz, who opened up their home to us and told us their stories. We learned the water crisis had been going on for as long as 10 years. We also learned that the filters residents had did not take all the lead from the water.
Many residents of Flint have come together to help each other, including Rick Ruizʼs band, While Rome Burns, that had a charity concert where benefits went to the people of Flint. Rick expressed anger and asked why the government had yet to fix the problem with Flintʼs water supply. Jason and Rick said they had felt increasing fatigue over the past year and have not been checked for lead poisoning but they would be going soon. They thanked us for coming to bring water and even though their kitchen “looked like a grocery store,” as Jason said, they accepted a few more cases. Before we left Rick asked us to pray for them.
Our next stop was Howard Estates. An elderly woman told us that the day before an organization came and delivered 15 cases per family. Upon leaving, we met a mother in the parking lot. She told us once again that the Flint water crisis had been going on for years. We asked if her children had lead poisoning and she said yes, at a high level. The pediatrician told her not to bathe the children in the water or let them drink it. But she explained that she still bathed her children in the water because the problem has been going on “forever” and they need to have a proper shower. At this point, we realized that the residents of Flint needed more than water. The city must inform them on the long-term effects of lead poisoning. This lady did not want any water but she did take a copy of the Peopleʼs Tribune and we continued on our way.” — By Krystal Robledo
“I am appalled at what is happening in Flint. I have implemented a water drive in the school district. I, along with others, will travel to Flint to personally deliver water. I want to bring this horrific act on the people of Flint to light. I am a mother of an 8-year-old daughter and currently unemployed so I know what it is like to be on the bottom of the barrel. I will do whatever it takes to bring justice to Flint.”— Patrice Maina, Rhode Island