Tuesday, May 31, 2016

CONYERS: Charges in Flint Water Crisis are not the Final Resolution to Long-Standing Inequities


WASHINGTON – On April 20, 2016, Representative John Conyers, Jr. released the following statement in response to reports that three government officials in Michigan will be charged in connection with the Flint Water Crisis.

Dean of the U.S. House
of Representatives
John Conyers, Jr.
“The news demonstrates the regrettable consequences of encouraging state and local workers to put the health and safety of Michiganders behind cutting costs, pleasing industry, and fighting federal authorities.  The decision to charge low-level employees is one that may give the people of Flint some small sense of reckoning—but under no circumstances should these charges or this trial be seen as bringing either closure or justice to the people of Flint.”

“Charging these individuals and even convicting these individuals may be the legally correct course, but it does not one single thing to address the fundamental inequality that communities like Flint and Detroit have to face every single day—and will do so regardless of the outcome of this case.  Tomorrow, they will still live in toxic homes, send their children to toxic schools, and be forced to plan for a future with a dwindling safety net and fewer ladders of opportunity.”

“The simple truth is that we are seeing action on Flint because there is a trail of evidence that leads to the conservative ideology currently in power. For those who have pushed a deregulatory, anti-environment agenda, it appears that their outrage and compassion begins and ends with their own legal culpability—and their support vanishes once the blame is fixed on someone else. Were that not true, we would see the governor taking a substantial part of that billion-dollar surplus and rebuilding Flint’s infrastructure.  Were that not true, we would see the state investing in Detroit’s literally toxic public schools in the way that they invest in the schools where they send their children.  Were that not true, we would see the Attorney General’s office stop wasting resources fighting to permit mercury pollution in Michigan.

“While I want to see people held accountable, I am worried that people are being charged today so that tomorrow the problem can be swept under the rug and the conservatives running Lansing can again focus on their most important issues: eliminating worker and environmental protections, cutting public support services, and usurping the political power of urban and low-income communities.  We cannot afford any more of the governance that has brought places like Flint and Detroit to their knees, and charging low-level civil servants will not prevent that.”

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