Students for a Democratic Society condemns Michigan Governor Rick Snyder and all politicians involved in the Flint Water Crisis. In 2014, to save water, the City of Flint switched their water supply from Detroit to the local Flint river. For decades, the Flint River has been polluted by the auto industry. The Flint water was not being treated, and as a result the water was 19 times more corrosive than the Detroit water. Additionally, half of Flint’s pipes contained lead, and were not treated to prevent the leaching of lead into the water supply. A combination of all these things results in water so polluted by iron that it is brown in color. State emergency financial manager Darnell Earley oversaw this change in 2014, while Edward J. Kurtz replaced Flint’s democratically elected mayor as an emergency financial manager in 2011. Emergency financial managers can ignore local policies for financial reasons, essentially valuing money over people. The devastating effects of this can be seen in Flint today, where many citizens are suffering from hair loss, vision loss, rashes, memory problems, and even lead poisoning. In addition, Governor Snyder blamed the lead contamination on pipes alone, and then only in some homes. He lied about the conditions in Flint and failed to take appropriate measures to protect the health and well being of Flint citizens.
The case of the this water crisis is particularly troubling because Flint’s population is 57% African American, while 40% of residents overall live below the poverty line. This is a prime example of environmental racism, in which poor people, especially poor people of color, are trapped in an area suffering from environmental conditions that are detrimental to their health and are ignored and downplayed by the government that should be helping them. Students for a Democratic Society stands with the demands of the Flint people. Governor Snyder must face criminal charges and step down. There must be an independent investigation of the Governor’s Office. All public water infrastructure must be replaced with no costs to residents. Students for a Democratic Society demands full equality and liberation for oppressed peoples