NAACP Requests Full-Scale Review of Flint Water Crisis by the U.S. Department of Justice

BALTIMORE, MD - The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) has formally requested that the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) launch civil and criminal investigations into the disastrous water crisis in Flint, Michigan.  In a letter to U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch, NAACP President and CEO Cornell William Brooks requested that all applicable components of the DOJ investigate potential environmental and civil rights violations to prevent future harms to Flint residents, to ensure that all possible measures are taken to remedy past harms to Flint residents, and to hold accountable those responsible for the crisis.

“The poisoning of Flint’s water—and the delayed response to that poisoning—is a classic example of the disproportionate burden of environmental harm being borne by low-income persons and communities of color,” said Cornell William Brooks, President and CEO.  “A focused, swift, and detailed investigation by the Department of Justice will be a significant step in rectifying this situation and determining whom to hold responsible for inflicting a lifetime of harm upon a vulnerable community.” 

The crisis began after Flint’s state-appointed emergency manager decided to switch the city’s water source from Lake Huron via Detroit’s Water System to the Flint River, causing the pipes to corrode and leach lead into the water.  The NAACP’s Flint Branch and Michigan State Conference have diligently worked over the last two years to inform the public about the poisoned water and its potential effects.

The NAACP has engaged the law firm of WilmerHale LLP to assist its Legal Department in working with the DOJ to protect the rights of the people of Flint.  The team at WilmerHale is led by Ronald C. Machen Jr., a former United States Attorney for the District of Columbia, and Debo Adegbile, former President of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund.  

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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.

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