Statement on Neglect of Duty Charges Filed Against Former Governor Snyder for Role in Flint Water Crisis

Washington, D.C. – Today, LaTricea Adams, the Founder CEO and President of Black Millennials 4 Flint and a Climate Power advisory boardmember, issued the following statement in response to former Michigan governor Rick Snyder being charged with willful neglect of duty for his role in the Flint water crisis.

“More than six years after the Flint water crisis began, then-Governor Snyder has finally been charged for his role in this injustice. These charges, which according to the Associated Press are misdemeanors punishable by up to a year in jail and a $1,000 fine, are minimal compared to the suffering endured by the people of Flint. Since the crisis began, thousands of Flint residents — most of whom are Black — were denied the basic human right of clean water. This egregious environmental racism robbed thousands of children of their futures, leaving them with lifelong health and developmental challenges. If found guilty, it will be imperative that Snyder is held duly accountable and is not allowed to shirk his sentence. This crisis forever changed our community, but we won’t let it define us. While these charges are a good step forward, there is still much work to be done to ensure justice for the people of Flint and across Michigan. There is a long road ahead to build an equitable future free of pollution and an opportunity to dismantle environmental racism in Flint, the entire state of Michigan, and the U.S. at-large.”

Several other top officials, including Michigan’s state health director and a senior Snyder advisor, are expected to face charges for their roles in the Flint water crisis. The charges are the latest in the long road to environmental justice. In August, the City of Flint reached a $600 million preliminary settlementthat would allegedly provide aid for residents suffering the effects of long-term lead poisoning, including special education for children living with lasting health impacts. Many Flint residents, including the former Mayor of Flint, Karen Weaver, view this settlement as inadequate, grounded in racism, and a “slap in the face.” After years in the fight for justice, Flint residents and activists have started a campaign called “Flint Says No” in response to the settlement. One of the demands is fitting for the announcement of the charges against Snyder, Michigan’s health director and advisor–the emergency manager appointment process must also be abolished.

The crisis in Flint exposed nearly 30,000 children to toxic lead, resulting in neurological damage that has overwhelmed the area’s public school system. Women in Flint experienced life altering impacts with miscarriages and other reproductive health challenges due to the corrosive water. While lead is prominent with the Flint Water Crisis, Legionnaires’ disease also proved to be lethal resulting in several deaths. Six years after the crisis was first reported, 15% of Flint’s lead pipes have yet to be replaced and some communities still lack access to safe water.

While the Flint crisis sparked national outrage over the environmental injustices facing communities of color, lead contamination is an issue across Michigan. A 2019 investigation found that 13 water systems across Michigan contained unsafe levels. Lead-contaminated water remains a major issue in Detroit, the country’s Blackest city, and the rate of lead exposure among children rose 28% in Detroit in 2016.