By Vernon A. Williams
If you’re tired of talking about race in America, dig a hole in the sands of Lake Shore Drive beaches in Chicago or Marquette Park’s beach in Gary and just bury your head in it (sadly, Indianapolis has no beach front).
Race remains the compelling and vital topic of our day. And even with that being conspicuously true, there are still those who’d rather not enter the fray. Then there are those – like presidential candidates – who prefer the “hear no evil…see no evil…speak no evil” cop-out.
Turning to the inhumane treatment of men, women and children in Flint, Michigan, and the total disrespect demonstrated by the state’s Republican Governor Rick Snyder who rob residents of a voice in local matters by deposing the mayor and city council, then appointing his own man to run the city.
How about swearing out an arrest warrant for Gov. Snyder?
Too harsh? Well, your perspective most likely relies on how much you know about the situation. Filmmaker and activist Michael Moore – who happens to live in Flint – recently shared with media 10 incredible points that are not being publicized broadly about the crisis. See if this persuades your thinking:
- While the Children in Flint Were Given Poisoned Water to Drink, General Motors Was Given a Special Hookup to clean water a few months after Governor Snyder removed Flint from the clean fresh water we had been drinking for decades; no need poisoning big business.
- For Just $100 a Day, This Crisis Could Have Been Prevented. Federal law requires that water systems which are sent through lead pipes must contain an additive that seals the lead into the pipe and prevents it from leaching into the water. Someone at the beginning suggested to the Governor that they add this anti-corrosive element to the water coming out of the Flint River. “How much would that cost?” came the question. “$100 a day for three months,” was the answer. Now the cost of fixing the situation is approximately $1.5 billion.
- There’s More Than the Lead in Flint’s Water. The number of cases in Flint of Legionnaires Disease has increased tenfold since the switch to the river water. Eighty-seven people have come down with it, and at least ten have died. In the five years before the river water, not a single person in Flint had died of Legionnaires Disease. Doctors are now discovering that another half-dozen toxins are being found in the blood of Flint’s citizens, causing concern that there are other health catastrophes which may soon come to light.
- People’s Homes in Flint Are Now Worth Nothing Because They Cant Be Sold. Would you buy a house in Flint right now? Who would? So every homeowner in Flint is stuck with a house that’s now worth nothing. That’s a total home value of $2.4 billion down the economic drain. People in Flint, one of the poorest cities in the U.S., don’t have much to their name, and for many their only asset is their home. So, in addition to being poisoned, they now have a net worth of zero.
- While They Were Being Poisoned, They Were Also Being Bombed. Here’s a story which has received little or no coverage outside of Flint. During these two years of water contamination, residents in Flint have had to contend with a decision made by the Pentagon to use Flint for target practice. Literally. Actual unannounced military exercises – complete with live ammo and explosives – were conducted last year inside the city of Flint. The army decided to practice urban warfare on Flint, making use of the thousands of abandoned homes which they could drop bombs on. Streets with dilapidated, unoccupied housing were targeted for rocket grenades.
- The Wife of the Governor’s Chief of Staff Is a Spokeswoman for Nestle, Michigan’s Largest Owner of Private Water Reserves. As Deep Throat told Woodward and Bernstein: “Follow the money.” Snyder’s chief of staff throughout the two years of Flint’s poisoning, Dennis Muchmore, was intimately involved in all the decisions regarding Flint. His wife is Deb Muchmore, who just happens to be the spokesperson in Michigan for the Nestle Company – the largest owner of private water sources in the State of Michigan.
- In Michigan, from Flint water, to Crime and Murder, to GM Ignition Switches, It’s a Culture of Death. Flint has one of the worst murder and crime rates in the country. But it’s not just street crime that makes one wonder about what is going on in Michigan. Last year, it was revealed that, once again, one of Detroit’s automakers had put profit ahead of people’s lives. General Motors learned that it had installed faulty ignition switches in many of its cars. Instead of simply fixing the problem, mid-management staff covered it up from the public.
- Don’t Call It “Detroit Water” — It’s the Largest Source of Fresh Drinking Water in the World. The media keeps saying Flint was using “Detroit’s water.” It is only filtered and treated at the Detroit Water Plant. The water itself comes from Lake Huron, the third largest body of fresh water in the world. It is a glacial lake formed over 10,000 years ago during the last Ice Age and it is still fed by pure underground springs.
- ALL the Children Have Been Exposed, As Have All the Adults, Including Me. That’s just a fact. If you have been in Flint anytime from April 2014 to today, and you’ve drank the water, eaten food cooked with it, washed your clothes in it, taken a shower, brushed your teeth or eaten vegetables from someone’s garden, you’ve been exposed to and ingested its toxins. When the media says “9,000 children under 6 have been exposed,” that means ALL the children have been exposed because the total number of people under the age of 6 in Flint is… 9,000!
- This Was Done, Like So Many Things These Days, So the Rich Could Get a Big Tax Break. When Governor Snyder took office in 2011, one of the first things he did was to get a multi-billion dollar tax break passed by the Republican legislature for the wealthy and for corporations. But with less tax revenues, that meant he had to start cutting costs. So, many things – schools, pensions, welfare, safe drinking water – were slashed. Then he invoked an executive privilege to take over cities (all of them majority Black) by firing the mayors and city councils whom the local people had elected, and installing his cronies to act as “dictators” over these cities. Their mission? Cut services to save money so he could give the rich even more breaks.
Thanks, Michael Moore. Now with whatever you have to say about the Flint debacle, you can no longer say you don’t know the truth.
CIRCLE CITY CONNECTION by Vernon A. Williams is a series of essays on myriad topics that include social issues, human interest, entertainment and profiles of difference makers who are forging change in a constantly evolving society. Williams is a 40-year veteran journalist based in Indianapolis, IN – commonly referred to as The Circle City.
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