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In 2014, the Republican Governor of Michigan, Rick Snyder, decided to redirect the water supply for the mostly Black city of Flint away from its regular access and route water from the Flint River into the homes of the city’s residents. The change was immediately noticed and reported by the people of Flint. Water coming from the faucets in their kitchens, and bathrooms were brown and emanated a noxious odor.
Tests were ordered. It was soon revealed that the already contaminated water loosened lead from inside of the very old pipes now flowing into the homes of the people of Flint. It was immediately declared unsafe to drink, use for cooking, and even dangerous when used to bathe or shower.
Within days the Ford Motor Company in Flint ceased using the water to clean its parts: they were rusting quickly after soaking in the grimy liquid.
The investigation continued and although Snyder and his administration attempted to hide them, reports were discovered containing test results taken prior to the change in Flint’s water supply. They were fully aware that the water from the Flint River was contaminated and should not have been used until it had been circulated through a water treatment facility.
Flint’s water supply remains less than acceptable today.
It was not until January of 2021 that criminal charges were filed against Snyder and eight others.
This is where the story begins. I often write about the “two Americas.” This is truer than true. This may be the 21st century, but there remains a separation. There is one America for whites and one for blacks. There are also “two Americas” when we talk about America’s judicial system. There is one for the rich, the powerful, members of law enforcement, and politicians, and another for low-income and impoverished Americans. The first group is seldom punished fairly for their crimes, while the second receives the maximum punishment allowed by law.
On Tuesday, the Michigan Supreme Court threw out all charges against Snyder and his cronies. More politicians are free after harming the lives of thousands. In my nearly 76 years, I have witnessed this dozens of times, and I doubt that anything will change today.
The vote was 6-0. A small technicality was used to prevent proven criminals from being punished for their crimes. Of course, they are Republicans. It is commonplace for Republicans to escape prosecution and convictions for their criminal actions.
Snyder’s attorney issued a typical right-wing celebratory statement.
“These prosecutions of Governor Snyder and the other defendants were never about seeking justice for the citizens of Flint,” Snyder’s lawyers said. “Rather, Attorney General Nessel and her political appointee Solicitor General Fadwa Hammoud staged a self-interested, vindictive, wasteful and politically motivated prosecution.”
Dana Nessel offered a rebuttal.
“The Flint water crisis stands as one of this country’s greatest betrayals of citizens by their government,” she said.
Later she added, “this is not over.”
I hope she’s right. The people of Flint deserve justice. Snyder’s actions were transparent. He is a white supremacist and never should have been elected. He had no intention of serving all of Michigan’s people.
Op-ed by James Turnage
AP News: Court kills Flint water charges against ex-governor, others
NRDC: Flint Water Crisis: Everything You Need to Know
NPR: Ex-Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder And 8 Others Criminally Charged In Flint Water Crisis