Monday, February 01, 2016

Genocide in Flint Michigan

                                                     
                                                      From The Ramparts
                                                    Junious Ricardo Stanton
                                         Flint Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity

            "LANSING  In January of 2015, when state officials were telling worried Flint residents their water was safe to drink, they also were arranging for coolers of purified water in Flint's State Office Building so employees wouldn't have to drink from the taps, according to state government e-mails released Thursday by the liberal group Progress Michigan. A Jan. 7, 2015, notice from the state Department of Technology, Management and Budget, which oversees state office buildings, references a notice about a violation of drinking water standards that had recently been sent out by the City of Flint.
'While the City of Flint states that corrective actions are not necessary, DTMB is in the process of providing a water cooler on each occupied floor, positioned near the water fountain, so you can choose which water to drink,' said the notice." Detroit Free Press http://www.freep.com/story/news/local/michigan/flint-water-crisis/2016/01/28/amid-denials-state-workers-flint-got-clean-water/79470650/


            People are talking about the situation in Flint Michigan where the city's dangerously tainted water supply was known for months by state officials and just like  with the foreknowledge of the September 11, 2001 "attacks", the government whose responsibility it is to protect its citizens did nothing. As the worsening crisis burst onto the national news cycle it has been discovered that the state of Michigan knew of the dangerous consequences of using Flint River water for many months. As reported in the Detroit Free Press newspaper, elevated lead in the blood of Flint children was known for months after the city began using water from the Flint River, "The July data review by the department came amid a growing outcry among Flint residents and local officials about the condition and safety of the city's water. The data showed a spike in the levels of lead in Flint children's blood in July, August and September 2014 — only a few months after the city had switched its water supply from the city of Detroit's system to Flint River water. Email exchanges within the department showed efforts to broaden the data review, to see if the conclusions would change. They didn't. 'Even compared to the previous three years, the portion of first-time EBLL (elevated blood-lead levels) is highest during summer 2014,' health department officials stated in a July 28 memo for Health and Human Services Director Nick Lyon"  State's Top Doctor Admits Missed Opportunity For Earlier Flint Response- Keith Matheny Detroit Free Press http://www.freep.com/story/news/local/michigan/flint-water-crisis/2016/01/23/health-department-flint-water-lead/79174598/
            So there you have it, Michigan officials not only knew about the dangerous health situation in the city of Flint, the state actually sent bottled water into Flint to the state office buildings while they did absolutely nothing for the residents of the city! Now that the crisis has gained international attention Michigan officials including the governor are scrambling to cover their behinds and deflect culpability for their crass malfeasance, insensitivity and racism (Flint Michigan is about sixty percent African-American).
            Fortunately there was a conscientious physician who saw the elevated levels of blood in the school children and sounded the alarm. " It was the work of one Flint pediatrician, Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, who saw alarming increases in the incidences of children with elevated blood-lead levels at her Hurley Medical Center that ultimately led the state health department's team of epidemiologists — a group Wells called among 'the most advanced epidemiology bureaus, in terms of PhD status' — to what was really happening in Flint. Hanna-Attisha held a news conference in Flint on Sept. 25 to announce her findings. A total of 1,746 test results from Flint children seen at Hurley were compared against 1,640 results from elsewhere in Genesee County. The number of Flint children with elevated blood-lead levels — 5 micrograms per deciliter or more — jumped from 2.1% in the 20 months prior to Sept. 15, 2013, to 4% between Jan. 1 and Sept. 15 of 2015. In certain ZIP codes, the change was even more troubling — jumping from 2.5% of the children tested to 6.3%."  ibid
            According to the Detroit Free Press newspaper, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services responded with an E-mail the day after Dr. Hanna-Attisha's press conference which was also sent to Michigan Governor Rick Synder claiming their methodology differed from Dr. Hanna-Attisha's saying the state had studied five consecutive years throughout all of Flint not just one hospital and their results were different.
            But when the state reviewed Dr. Hanna-Attisha's research and methodology and replicated it; they came to the same conclusions she did. Not only did Dr Hanna-Attisha warn the state about dangerous water quality in Flint, Michigan State Representative Sheldon Neely whose district covers Flint also alerted the state, including Governor Rick Snyder, of the danger of water pollution in the Flint infrastructure shortly after Flint went off the Detroit water system and switched to the Flint River. Neely's letter was dated January 29 2015 but Michigan officials did nothing.
            In his letters, Neely who is African-American asked the state for help. He asked for debt forgiveness so Flint could improve their antiquated water system's infrastructure. But at that time the issue was merely the dark color and foul smell of the tap water, toxicity was not then a concern. Neely also wrote to the Michigan State Attorney General asking for an investigation. The Attorney General responded to Neely's letter but no investigation was initiated.
            Does anyone believe that if Flint Michigan was an affluent white community this would have happened or been allowed to fester for so long without any substantive action? Does anyone believe Governor Rick Snyder will be indicted or held accountable for this mess? I certainly don't. In America the super rich and certain politicians seem above the law; they can commit crimes of omission, crimes of commission and crimes against humanity and nothing happens to them.
            To add insult to injury the residents of Flint are not able to sue the government to recover the money they have to put out to remedy the problem caused by the city. "As has been widely reported, 6.4 percent of Flint's nearly 8,500 kids are now testing for dangerously high lead levels in their blood stream — up from 3.6 percent before the city switched them from Detroit water to toxic Flint River water. Many of these children have developed rashes and brittle bones and face the prospect of permanent brain damage, diminished IQ, and behavioral difficulties. But kids are not the only ones hurt. Around 85 people have been diagnosed with Legionnaire's disease — a particularly horrible form of pneumonia — compared to around six to 13 in a normal year. Ten of them have already died. Even if Obama expands free Medicaid for all Flint children, the rest of the medical bills — deductibles and co-pays — for middle-income Flint families will be substantial. Nor is that their only financial exposure. The lead poisoning occurred because Flint failed to treat water with phosphorous, something that corroded the coating inside city pipes and home plumbing, allowing lead to leach in. Though switching back to treated water has diminished the lead content for now, the danger of lead poisoning will always remain unless all the piping is refitted. But replacing city pipes will cost up to $1.5 billion. This would be difficult for even a financially healthy city, let alone one that can't even pay its existing bills and has unfunded pension liabilities of $1.1 billion." Flint Water Victims Can't Sue the Government, That's The Other Crime- Shikha Dalmia The Week http://theweek.com/articles/601521/flint-water-victims-cant-sue-government-thats-another-crime
            The real travesty is that the residents of Flint cannot sue their city to recover their losses or remediate the problems! "What's more, each homeowner will face at least $4,000 to install a new water heater, plumbing system, and a new service line connection, as The Washington Post points out. And then of course there is the hit to Flint's already declining property values as the city further cements its reputation as an irremediable basket case... The main reason that they don't have a prayer of collecting much more is something called the doctrine of sovereign immunity. Under this doctrine, citizens are barred from suing their government for screw-ups that it has caused in the course of discharging a core function unless the government itself consents. Some very narrow exceptions exist but it is very difficult to make them stick. Some activist lawyers in Michigan have come up with a creative constitutional argument to try and surmount the sovereign immunity hurdle. They have filed a class action lawsuit on the grounds that the government failed to provide Flint residents with equal protection under the 14th Amendment. But this rationale is a stretch that many plaintiffs' lawyers are having trouble buying." ibid
            Very few are mentioning race and class in this crisis. Flint is a former industrial city that has fallen on hard times due to deindustrialization and the shipping of auto jobs overseas. Forty-two percent of Flint residents live below the poverty line and the city is fifty-seven percent Black. The fact most Flint residents are African-American and are either working class or poor are factors in this situation. This makes matters worse because they lack the economic and political clout to galvanize enough support to get the government to act on their behalf.      "For decades, the residents of Flint have borne a disproportionate environmental burden, so much so that they have brought administrative complaints alleging that the amount of pollution residents faced violated their civil rights. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), like every federal agency, must abide by Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and ensure recipients of federal aid do not discriminate on the basis of race, color or national origin. Title VI violations can occur if state environmental agencies, for example, permit hazardous and/or polluting industries disproportionately in communities of color. If a community feels Title VI has been violated, they can file an administrative complaint with the EPA's Office of Civil Rights. Flint has a long history of advocates fighting against environmental racism. In 1997, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality granted an air permit to the Select Steel "mini-mill" to operate in Flint, even though the mill would send up to 100 tons of lead and other hazardous pollutants into the city's air every year. Residents were already dealing with pollution from the nearby Genesee Power Station when the Select Steel permit was granted. Advocates in Flint had filed administrative complaints with the EPA for Title VI violations against the Genesee Power Station in 1994. The EPA never responded and the power station started operating in 1995." Flint Water Crisis Is A Classic Case of Environmental Racism  by J. Mijin Cha http://thehill.com/blogs/pundits-blog/energy-environment/266850-flint-water-crisis-is-classic-case-of-environmental
            Because of these facts I believe Flint has been the victim of genocide and a crime against humanity.

                                                            -30-
           





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