Flint water evolution of injustice

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Flint water evolution of injustice

Illustration by Linlin Xing

Illustration by Linlin Xing

Illustration by Linlin Xing

By Sam Deal, Opinion Editor

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The water catastrophe of Flint, Michigan, is another sad example of systemic violence against impoverished and minority communities in the United States.

The once-proud town known as Vehicle City was devastated by the loss of auto plants in the last half century. 41 percent of Flint’s 100,000 occupants fall below the poverty level and African-Americans represent 56 percent of the populace.

In 2011, nearly bankrupt, the state appointed Flint an emergency city manager. The position has rotated a handful of times in the last four years and is now held by Jerry Ambrose.

In April 2014, the city switched its water source from Detroit’s water system, which funneled roughly 70 miles from Lake Huron, to the Flint River in order to save money.

By October 2014, a boil-water advisory had been put in place and General Motors stopped using the municipal water citing its increased corrosive tendency. Three months later, Detroit water attempted to reconnect Flint and waive the connection fee, and Ambrose declined.

For the next year, growing concerns arose in the community as tap water became odorous and off-color. The city and state governments began to study the water supply and quickly recognized the water corroded old pipelines, which leaked highly toxic levels of lead into the city’s water supply.

But it was not until October 2015, after an independent investigation and statewide protests, that the city issued a warning to residents against using the water. It was also in this month the city returned to Detroit’s water system. But the damage had already been done.

Permanent damage to the city water system forced Governor Rick Snyder to declare a state of emergency on Jan. 5. Flint Mayor Karen Weaver recently stated the estimated cost to fix the water system is in the range of $1.5 billion.

When transitioning from Lake Huron’s water, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality did not add anti-corrosive agents to the water, which allowed the eventual contamination.

The decision to cut costs by switching water sources is perfectly understandable, but state officials’ negligence in the handling of a rapidly-declining situation is hard to imagine. Unless you live in an impoverished, mostly minority community, then it is just another day in the country we call great.

When it comes down to it, the citizens, specifically the children, of Flint were expendable. A necessary loss in order to save what matters most: money.

It was not until the crisis began to receive national attention that any progress was made in protecting U.S. citizens from the inaction of their governing body. Sadly, it is coming too late and Flint’s population will be suffering the effects of lead poisoning for years.

Like Baltimore, Ferguson and so many other poor communities in this country, Flint residents weren’t only abandoned by those who are charged to help them, but abused to the point of absolute desperation.

We look at lynching as a thing of the past, yet for years militarized police brutality has just taken its place.

Since the slaying of Michael Brown, police aggression has become a hotbed of conversation for the entire nation. The authoritarian police forces in poor, mostly minority communities are no longer allowed to execute individuals of the communities. Well, at least not without getting a slap on the wrist.

No longer will young men be beaten to death in custody or senselessly murdered without drawing massive criticism and threat of repercussion.

Flint is simply the evolution. Why target poor, minority individuals when you can poison the entire populace and deny responsibility or aid until the damage is already done.

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