Cher and Michael Moore also demand the governor step down
By Frederick H. Lowe
U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders who is campaigning for the Democratic Party’s nomination for president and the black votes needed to get him there, has called for Michigan Governor Rick Snyder to resign over his mishandling of Flint, Michigan’s water crisis, which has left at least30,000 of the town’s residents with undrinkable water because of its high lead content.
Sanders, an Independent from Vermont, said: “There are no excuses. The governor knew about the lead in Flint’s water. He did nothing. As a result, hundreds of children were poisoned. Thousands may have been exposed to potential brain damage from lead. Gov. Snyder should resign.”
Sanders’ comments are part of a fast-moving series of events that began Friday when President Barack Obama declared that an emergency exists in Flint because high levels of lead have been found in the drinking water of the mostly black town, 66 miles northwest of Detroit. Flint was the town where General Motors was organized on September 16, 1908.
On Saturday, Cher, the Academy Award winning actress and Emmy Award winning singer, teamed with Icelandic Glacial, a natural spring water company, to donate 181,440 bottles of drinking water to Flint residents.
Academy Award winning documentary filmmaker Michael Moore, who was born in Flint, has been circulating an online petition calling for Snyder’s resignation, an investigation into the water crisis and his arrest.
As of Tuesday at 12:05 a.m. Central Standard Time, 122,726 had signed Moore’s petition, which can be found at Michael Moore’s website.
Members of the Congressional Black Caucus also have called for a federal investigation of all of the entities that had oversight of Flint’s water.
Moore called on President Obama to visit Flint.
Cher, Moore and Sanders said Snyder switched Flint’s source of water in 2014 to the Flint River from Lake Huron to save money.
“Michigan officials insisted it was safe to drink even though an internal memo at the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services warned that lead poisoning rates were higher than usual for children under 16. The state continued to say the water was safe until Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, a Flint pediatrician, reported in September that there was an unusually high level of lead in Flint children,” Sanders said. State officials ignored Dr. Hanna-Attisha’s findings.
Since October, Flint residents have been advised not to drink the water flowing from their taps, which is brown in color and smells suspiciously bad.
High levels of lead poisoning cause neurological changes which can in turn cause cognitive deficiencies, learning disabilities and mood and impulse issues that can interfere with functioning. This is particularly a concern for children who would struggle to perform in school if poisoned by lead.
Lead poisoning especially affects infants, children and expectant mothers, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.
Lead poisoning is such a serious national problem, especially among African-American children, the CDC hosts national lead poisoning prevention week annually.
Snyder has since apologized for his mishandling of Flint’s water crisis, but what is occurring in Michigan reminds many of us of the Republican Party’s mishandling of Hurricane Katrina that flooded New Orleans black neighborhoods on August 29, 2005.
Hurricane Katrina packed 125 mile per hour winds when it hit New Orleans’s Lower 9th Ward.
Although bloated black bodies were floating in the Mississippi River and residents were standing on their rooftops frantically waving their arms for help, it took days before President George W. Bush changed his schedule to survey the wreckage from the comfort of Air Force One. More than 1,000 people died during Hurricane Katrina.
Angry and frustrated with the president’s slow response, rapper Kanye West said President Bush didn’t care about black people. Now a growing chorus is saying the same about Gov. Snyder. He will finally address Flint’s water problems during his State of the State address tonight.