Rick Snyder, the Republican governor of Michigan, is in hot water. There’s a crisis going on in Flint, Michigan, over the water infrastructure containing lead. Lead is a poison that is harmful to humans when ingested and is detrimental to the neurological development of children and fetuses, with serious long-term side effects. Since April 2014, Flint residents have been using, drinking and bathing with lead-based water that was piped into their homes from the Flint River. As a result, some residents fell sick, developed unexplainable rashes, lost patches of hair and some have even died. Many residents that were tested for lead had extremely high levels of lead in their system. Protesters are furious, calling for Snyder’s arrest and resignation.
Gov. Snyder was met by protesters outside the state capitol during his annual State of the State Address on Tuesday, Jan. 19, but he addressed the issue to a standing room only crowd inside the capitol building. He opened up the address with the following statement:
“To begin, I’d like to address the people of Flint. Your families face a crisis, a crisis you did not create and could not have prevented,” Snyder said. “I am sorry and I will fix it.”
Now, if you are still wondering what happened to cause this crisis, let’s catch you up to speed. To make a long story short, here’s a timeline:
- March 2013 – Flint city council voted in March 2013 to stop buying Detroit Water and instead switch the water source to a new pipeline (that needed to be constructed) to the Karegondi Water Authority. The new pipeline wouldn’t be completed for another three years — forcing Flint to find an interim source of drinking water — they opted for the Flint River.
- April 2014 – Detroit notifies Flint it will stop selling the city water. Flint switches from Detroit water to the Flint River in an effort to “save” money. All children who drank Flint water since April 2014 may have been exposed to lead poisoning.
- January 2015 – Detroit offers to reconnect water system after unfavorable findings during monitored tests, and also agrees to waive the $4 million connection fee. Emergency Manager (Jerry Ambrose) declines the switchback; Gov. Snyder awards $2 million to “fix” the findings (leaks and replace wastewater incinerator).
- February 2015 – High levels of lead were found in the water system.
- October 2015 – Flint water system was switched back to Detroit water — but it may have been too late as lead was already found in the water piped into residents’ homes.
- Jan. 5, 2016 – Gov. Snyder declared a state of emergency.
- Jan. 12, 2016 – FEMA and The National Guard were mobilized to help distribute bottled water and water filters by delivering them door-to-door.
- Jan. 16, 2016 – Federal government intervened when President Obama declared a federal state of emergency.
- Jan. 19, 2016 – Governor Snyder addresses the nation at his annual State of the State address. Offers apology and vows to fix it through his plan.
And that’s how this local water crisis became a national scandal. Through all of this, Snyder still refuses to step down. Protesters are calling for Snyder’s immediate resignation and arrest.
Twitter has erupted with “#ArrestGovSnyder” and #FlintWaterCrisis tweets. Celebrities have become involved as well, with Michael Moore (a Flint native), leading the efforts.
Even Jeezy tweeted his concerns.
And Big Sean weighed in as well, offering his thoughts on how he can help.
We’ll keep a close eye on what’s next. Sound off in the comments. Let us know your thoughts. Is Gov. Snyder committing genocide? We want to know.