BALTIMORE, MD – The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) released the following statement regarding the Flint, Michigan water crisis:
“It is not extraordinary or unrealistic to expect the water our children drink and bathe in, the water we use to prepare meals to nourish and sustain our bodies, to be free of toxic chemicals. To expose an entire city of nearly 100,000 residents, many of them children, to toxic lead is, if not criminal, is at the very least inhumane.
“An investigation is a positive and much needed step in the right direction, but immeasurable damage has already been done by exposing thousands of Flint residents to the debilitating, irreversible, even life-threatening effects of the buildup of lead in one’s system. And the devastating impact on young children can result in mental, physical and developmental damage that can last a lifetime.
“The NAACP has been fighting for the rights of Flint residents since this travesty began over a year ago, holding community listening sessions, participating in public hearings, passing a resolution at our last state convention and being a signatory to a multi-party petition to the Environmental Protection Agency to call for justice.
“We must hold accountable Michigan’s public officials who chose to balance the city’s budget at the expense of the health of the citizens they serve. Even as children were showing up sick in doctor’s offices with rashes and cases of hair loss, state environmental officials and elected leaders refused to see the warning signs. Would more have been done, and at a much faster pace, if nearly 40 percent of Flint residents were not living below the poverty line? The answer is unequivocally yes.
“The lives of hardworking people who struggle to support their families should not be traded simply to save money. Only last week, three full months after high lead levels were detected in Flint children, Governor Rick Snyder declared a state of emergency. His actions and inaction, as well of those of the departments under his leadership, are inadequate at best, insulting at worst, and in any and every instance injurious to the residents of Flint.”
“The national office of the NAACP will continue to support state and local NAACP leadership in ensuring that any investigation be independent, unbiased, and thorough. Local and state NAACP leadership will focus on ensuring that there is equitable and effective distribution of mitigation efforts, and that jobs for mitigation are concentrated among local residents. The National NAACP leadership also supports the Michigan State Conference and local Flint Branch of the NAACP in calling for a return to democracy for the residents of Flint who have been under an imposed Emergency Manager system that is not representative of those under its governance.”
Founded in 1909, the NAACP is the nation’s oldest and largest nonpartisan civil rights organization. Its members throughout the United States and the world are the premier advocates for civil rights in their communities. You can read more about the NAACP’s work and our six “Game Changer” issue areas here.