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Civil rights icon Jesse Jackson leads march to protest Flint water crisis

Feb 19, 2016

The Rev. Jesse Jackson (right) marches with local and national figures to protest Flint's ongoing lead-tainted drinking water crisis.
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Chanting “No pipes, no peace," hundreds of people marched on Flint’s water plant today.

The Rev. Jesse Jackson led the marchers as they protested the city’s ongoing drinking water crisis.

Flint’s drinking water became contaminated with lead after an ill-fated decision to switch the city’s tap water source to the Flint River. Various agencies failed to ensure the water was properly treated to reduce its corrosiveness. The corrosive river water damaged aging lead pipes and lead solder, which has been leaching into the drinking water ever since.

Wearing a Flint Lives Matter shirt, Jackson told the marchers they are not the only ones dealing with lead-tainted drinking water.

Rev. Jackson took off his coat to show he was wearing a 'Flint Lives Matter' shirt beneath
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

“All Flint residents are victims of this,” Jackson told the midday crowd. “Flint, though it happens to be the center, is not the only place. There are more Flints across Michigan.”

Next week, the city plans to remove the first of what could be 15,000 water service lines leaching lead into the tap water. The city is getting $2 million from the state to replace the lead pipes. But Flint’s mayor says it will cost more than $50 million to remove them all.

The marchers not only want the lead pipes out, they also want Gov. Snyder out too. They blame him for the decisions made while Flint was under emergency managers he appointed.

Gov. Rick Snyder (R-MI) says he wants to solve Flint's drinking water crisis.
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

In Flint Thursday, Snyder rejected calls for him to resign. 

“I want to fix this problem, and isn’t that what you would want from any good Michigander?” Snyder told reporters. 

Snyder blames “career bureaucrats” for the mistakes that led to Flint’s drinking water crisis.