Editor’s note: These are excerpts of a press conference held on day one of the fifth year commemoration of the Flint disaster.5 years and counting . . . FIX FLINT NOW!
FLINT, MI — “We stand here today in front of the Flint Water Treatment Plant to commemorate the disaster that continues to affect the people of Flint. [It is] five years after the government on all levels failed to properly treat the water supply when the city began using the Flint River on April 25, 2014. The community … is still in imminent peril. While national news [failed] to be a check on government, the voice and suffering of Flint residents has not been silenced.
Today we will be heard. Flint’s tap water is not safe to drink.
In May 2018, the state government … abruptly cut off Flint’s bottled water supply, leaving everyone. … to fend for themselves, while residents pay one of the highest water rates in the country for water that cannot be consumed.
We call upon President Trump to grant Flint a Federal Disaster Declaration. Federal resources could have made Flint a model city for recovery. …
State government [is responsible] to. … restore democracy and abolish the Emergency Manager Law that precipitated. … the poisoning of this great American city. The voters across Michigan rejected the aggressive law that remains on the books. … Unless there is change, the Emergency Manager Law will continue to harm Michigan.
We urge Gov. Whitmer to keep her campaign promise to restore state supported bottled water for Flint residents. Reopen the Water PODS and fund expansion of the. … community HELP Centers [and] a delivery program. … Flint residents should not have to rely on. … charity to access basic services that are the responsibility of the government.
The World Health Organization recognizes that without clean water and sanitation, there is a public health risk. We implore the city to stop water shut-offs and for the state to implement a water affordability plan. Access to clean, safe, reliable and affordable water is a human right. …
Flint’s fight … highlights the importance of civic engagement. Flint has many water warriors who. … have been fighting for the truth of the water crisis. We must stop police brutality and dismiss charges against people standing for water rights. People should not have to fear arrest for speaking out.
We have yet to see accountability and justice. Flint families need government to settle the civil lawsuits so recovery can continue.
Rather than labeling our children or using punitive [school] suspensions, children need proper support services to mitigate the pervasive effects of lead. … poisoning. We demand Medicare for all … impacted by the water crisis.
Today, as a community we light five lanterns to represent each year of the water crisis and to memorialize the many people who lost their lives in this disaster. May the human spirit that unites us all, bond us together in compassion, hope, and service. We are Flint strong.”
Reverend Villarreal is pastor at Salem Lutheran Church and an organizer for Michigan United.