Incarceration Nation

Environmental Racism in Michigan

By Kerry “Shakaboona” Marshall

Let’s begin with the premise that Michigan Governor Rick Snyder must be charged with federal and state criminal violations of criminal negligence and a hate crime, for he knowingly forced the majority Black-populated City of Flint, Michigan to use contaminated Flint River water, which inflicted immeasurable and irreparable injury on the populace. Because without such an understanding of the matter, the public may very well allow Governor Snyder and his administrative staff to slip through their clutches and walk away scot-free with political careers intact from their dastardly crime, based on a politically expedient and meaningless apology.

The facts are too powerful to ignore. The Flint community knew for decades that the Flint River was poisoned and could not be used. The Flint City administration also knew, and the governor’s appointed Emergency Manager over Flint knew about the contaminated river water. Even still, the Emergency Manager—a numbers-puncher only concerned about Flint’s fiscal management and not the health of the people—switched Flint’s water supply from Lake Huron to the contaminated Flint River water despite complaints and opposition to the move.

The Mayor of Flint sent complaints to Governor Snyder, which he dismissed. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), a federal agency, got involved by investigating the Flint River matter. Scientific testing revealed extremely high levels of lead contamination of the river water and strongly suggested that it not be used in any manner. Governor Snyder rejected the EPA’s scientific findings, produced an opposing State Report by doctors he found saying the water was safe and can be used, and continued subjecting the people of Flint to poisonous water for over a year

After a groundswell of opposition from the people, and seeing the political peril before him, Governor Snyder now wants to end Flint’s use of contaminated water and to say he’s “sorry.” But a simple apology without sincere action behind it just doesn’t cut the mustard. A truly sincere apology to the people of Flint would be Governor Snyder proverbially falling on his sword by resigning office to save face and sacrifice his political life to the Gods of politics for causing so much pain to others and disgracing himself.

Governor Snyder’s actions towards the City of Flint is utterly disturbing because we know that were Flint a wealthy, mostly white-populated city, the “thought” to subject such a city to contaminated waters wouldn’t have even crossed Governor Snyder’s mind! But such thoughts are clearly entertained and acted upon by wicked people like Governor Snyder when it comes to the treatment of poor, Black people.

This is just another example of how black lives don’t matter to the white-majority political establishment in America.

Prison Radio, January 22, 2016