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Civil rights hearings planned on Flint water crisis

Jan 27, 2016

Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The Michigan Civil Rights Commission will investigate whether the Flint drinking water crisis has violated the civil rights of Flint residents. 

The bipartisan commission unanimously passed a resolution yesterday to hold at least three public hearings, the first of which is expected to take place within 30 days.

"The Commission decided that under the state constitution, as well as the Elliott-Larsen Act, to conduct hearings to try to learn more if discrimination may have occurred," said commission co-chair Arthur Horwitz. 

"We have an obligation under our constitutional mandate to investigate allegations of discrimination, including disparate treatment based on race, color, national origin, or any other protected status," Horwitz said.

According to Horwitz, the commission has the power to administer oaths and require witnesses to appear. He said the location of the hearings and who will be called to testify have not yet been decided.

Horwitz said the kinds of things that could come out of the hearings range from a report summarizing the testimony, a report with findings and recommendations, to "filing a lawsuit in circuit court alleging discrimination and demanding remedial action be taken if it were found that discrimination had taken place."