Top leaders of the NAACP were in Lansing Wednesday pressing Governor Snyder on the Flint water crisis.
The group blocked a street in front of the State Capitol with pieces of pipe, calling it a “pipe-in.”
Leading the group was the National NAACP President and CEO Cornell William Brooks.
Brooks was in Lansing a month ago, and threatened civil disobedience if Governor Snyder didn’t present a plan within 30 days that included a deadline for replacing Flint’s water pipes.
— NAACP (@NAACP) March 23, 2016
“Our message with the pipe-in is, in the last 30 day we have not seen what we called for 30 days ago. Namely, a timeline, a deadline and a price set,” Brooks says.
Gov. Snyder issued a plan on the 27th day, but Brooks and the NAACP weren’t satisfied. According to Brooks, the plan does not include the called-for timeline, deadline and price.
“This plan is essentially a compilation of adjectives, verbs and nouns without numbers,” Brooks says. “The plan proffered by the governor has all the specificity of a bumper sticker.”
Brooks praises Flint’s “brand spanking new” Mayor Karen Weaver for her quick and focused efforts to replace the city’s lead pipes “with the relative pennies that she has.”
“We’re simply saying to the governor, we realize that you have a great many responsibilities, but having broken the water infrastructure in Flint, now is the time to fix it. And to fix it you need a plan with specificity,” Brooks says.
Brooks lays out a comparison:
“Ask yourself this question: Would the governor recruit a business to Michigan with incentives without telling a prospective CEO how much, when and under what conditions? Why again is he asking the citizens of Flint to trust him without telling them when the problem will be fixed, a deadline for the problem having been fixed and the price tag for it being fixed?”
Brooks tells us the NAACP has begun a campaign of increasing civil disobedience. He asks the governor to imagine thousands of people from across the country coming to Flint and Lansing “to put forth a common-sense request and demand responsible action from his office.”
“Absent a real response, we’re going to call on people to come from across the country,” he says. “We’re simply asking the governor to do what any chief executive would have to do under these circumstances.”
— NAACP (@NAACP) March 23, 2016
The Flint Water Advisory Task Force has just released its report after five months of interviews and fact-finding.
The report was clear that “the Flint water crisis is a clear case of environmental injustice.”
One of the task force members, Ken Sikkema, said on Stateside that he doesn’t believe that environmental justice is about racism, rather that it’s about “equal treatment and citizen voices having meaningful impact on decision-making in government.” That clearly didn’t happen in Flint.
“The fact that people can be disadvantaged as a consequence of their socioeconomic status is not inconsistent with them being disadvantaged as a consequence of their race or ethnicity,” Brooks tells us.
“Imagine the wealthiest community, the wealthiest city, the wealthiest town in Michigan enduring the same kind of treatment as the residents and citizens of Flint,” Brooks says. “I think that race and ethnicity as well as class play a role here, and I think that it is profoundly naive to imagine that it does not.”
Brooks tells us he’ll “most definitely” be back in Michigan soon.
“I’d rather come back to Michigan to enjoy the scenery, to enjoy the sights, the food, the people. I’d rather not come back to protest and to demonstrate and to lend support to the citizens of Michigan in terms of righting an unconscionable wrong. But, given what we’ve seen so far, I imagine I will be back to do those very things.”
“We would much rather come here to lend support for any program, any plan [Gov. Snyder] puts forward that’s truly responsive to the problem. No one desires to spend time protesting when we can in fact stand together constructing a better Flint, a more viable Flint, a Flint that reflects the aspirations and ambitions of its citizens. So we’re not here to protest for … protest’s sake, but if we have to do that we will based on a calendar of our own making.”