— It’s about a city where 56 percent of residents are African-American and 48 percent of residents live with an income below the poverty level. These statistics, along with an unresolved water crisis, bring Flint to the center of collapse, if federal help doesn’t arrive soon. In a recent speech given by the Department of Justice principle deputy assistant attorney general, Vanita Gupta, vocalized what so many people in the U.S. painfully know to be true:
In communities across American today, from Ferguson, MO, to Flint, MI, too many people — especially young people and people of color — live trapped by the weight of poverty and injustice. They suffer the disparate impact of policies driven by, at best, benign neglect, and worst, deliberate indifference. And they see how discrimination stacks the deck against them.
In a letter written by five Michigan Democratic members of Congress, the U.S. representatives stated,
“At its core, this predominately African-American and high-poverty community has been deprived of all ability to influence the most basic decisions affecting its health and safety at enormous human and economic cost.”
Added to the incredibility of the situation, with evidence of widespread corruption and gross negligence, property values in Flint have plunged. The poor are unable to sell their homes in the city and few can pay for the repairs needed to replace lead-based, water pipes.
Fortunately, ten lawsuits, including many class-actions, have been filed at Michigan county, state, and federal levels. That’s good news but due to a doctrine of “sovereign immunity,” plaintiffs fear they may never see a dime since it shields state and federal government from being sued. That was until recently when “the State of Michigan can [now] be sued over allegations that the contamination of Flint’s drinking water damaged the health of residents and hurt the value of their properties,” a Michigan Court of Claims judge has ruled.
Flint residents are skeptical and who can blame them. They don’t believe help is on the way because new legislation and compensation is often a long and arduous process. The best thing that can happen in Flint right now is a flood of brand new pipes, fast-paced construction, lead remediation or abatement in all homes built before 1978, punishment for negligent officials, and the election of new officials who will oversee the judiciary process and the building of a new, prosperous community.
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