The Amazing Parallels Between Flint Michigan and Bayview Hunters Point
Flint is the largest city in Michigan and birthplace of General Motors and the Flint Strike of 1936 that led to formation of the United Auto Workers. It has over 100,000 residents and is described as “one of the poorest and most dangerous cities in the United States.” The average household income is $39, 575 and 41.2% of the population lives below poverty levels. African Americans comprise 54.08% of residents.
On April 25, 2014, Michigan’s Republican Governor Rick Snyder appointed an emergency manager who implemented a money-saving decision to use the Flint River as a water source during construction of a pipeline from Lake Huron. The water was not properly treated and corroded the city’s aging pipes causing lead to leach into the faucets of Flint’s residents.
According to abc7 wxyz.com, ”Despite desperate pleas from residents holding jugs of discolored skunky water, Snyder and his administration took no significant action until a doctor reported elevated levels of lead in children over 18 months later.”
That doctor is Michigan State University researcher and pediatrician Mona Hanna — Attisha, MD, MPH, FAAP. She serves as Director of the Michigan State University Pediatric Public Health Initiative and is recipient of the $250,000 Heinz Foundation Award in Public Policy.
Lead has an irreversible impact on brain development in the fetus and children under the age of six, causing speech and developmental delays and behavioral problems. Dr. Hannah-Attisha is the “Hidden Figure” behind the Flint Water Crisis. In the summer of 2015 she recalls the exact moment she started to realize something was wrong. She was with a high school girlfriend and drinking water expert at a social gathering in her home who said, “Mona, the water isn’t being treated properly in Flint and there’s lead in the water.”
“And that’s the moment my life changed. When I heard the word lead, it was a call to action. I respect the science of what lead does. I understand it’s a potent, irreversible neurotoxin. I also understand that lead poisoning is a form of environmental racism…that’s the moment I stopped sleeping. I stopped eating. I lost about 30 pounds. And I began the quest to find out if that lead was getting into the bodies of our children.” https://www.npr.org/2021/01/14/956705090/pediatrician-who-spotlighted-lead-in-flint-water-weighs-in-on-crisis
In the six years since she spearheaded research that detected lead levels had doubled in Flint Michigan children, Dr. Hanna — Attisha went on to establish a toxic registry to track the health of exposed children for decades and became instrumental in implementing free childcare, universal preschool, Medicaid expansion, mobile grocery stores and mental health/positive parenting programs for the children and families of Flint.
Former Governor Rick Snyder has been charged with willful neglect of duty and Michigan’s former health director Nick Lyon plead not guilty to involuntary manslaughter in the deaths of nine people who contracted Legionnaires disease — a bacterial infestation caused by the lack of chlorine in that drinking water. Lyon is a 1990 graduate of Yale University with a degree in Economics. Lyon is not a medical doctor and Michigan taxpayers paid $1.6 million in his defense…more than what the Michigan county spent on attorneys for every indigent defendant in 2019!
After a lengthy investigation into the Flint water crisis that included 12 months of grand jury proceedings, Prosecutor Kym L. Worthy announced on January 14, 2021 “nine individuals have been indicted on a total of 41 counts related to a series of actions and inactions that created the historic injustice of the Flint Michigan Water Crisis.”
“When an entire city is victimized by the negligence and indifference of those in power, it deserves an uncompromising investigation that holds to account anyone who is criminally culpable. That is what all residents in this state are entitled to, regardless of their ZIP code. And that is what this prosecution team did. Our approach was simple — where we believed the evidence would prove a criminal charge, we sought and obtained indictments for those crimes.” Fadwa Hammoud , Solicitor General — State of Michigan
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