Tuesday, December 1, 2015
Flint Water Crisis: Citizens Fighting For Clean Water Against Poison Politics
Jack Olmsted (Videoblogging 206/GMO Free News): You seem like a pretty even-keeled guy. What gets you upset about this (Flint Water Crisis) or is it simply business as usual? You have been at it (journalist) for twenty years…haven’t you seen it all?
Curt Guyette: Never seen anything like this. Where people...especially children, pregnant women, being poisoned with LEAD just to save money. Then the extent to which they went to try to cover it up. To deny there was a problem. What they did in terms of testing to make it appear that LEAD levels were lower than they really were. In terms, of just the scope of the issue, and how serious the issue is.
How many people are affected...I've never been involved with a story like this at all.
Jack: What is the big story here? There's lots a little stories - pregnant women, kids, schools, the [water system] infrastructure, the lead pipes, the government [corruption], the emergency manager [law]. What is the big story here for you?
Curt: Well it's a combination of the things that you just talked about certainly the role of the emergency management in this and how emergency management created this crisis. Which was a totally created crisis that could have been avoided. So that's one thing.
Jack: Let's say you are going to write a book. What is the title of the book?
Curt: I would say, "It's Fighting The Poison" because the big story is how citizens like LeeAnne Walters and Lois Amaze, the “Concerned Pastors For Social Action”... all these different groups and people who created this “Coalition for Clean Water” in Flint and refused to accept the government claims that the water was safe and kept pushing and pushing and pushing until they eventually forced the governor to allow Flint to go back to the Detroit system is the story.
In that sense, it's a very inspiring story about how citizens were able to through incredible effort and perseverance do what was needed to create change.
Part of what they did was find allies. One of the allies that they found was Virginia Tech which did the testing. And they really did heroic work. They were working around the clock when the samples were collected. Another ally was the ACLU of Michigan. This is not a traditional ACLU kind of issue but because it stemmed from taking away democracy, we thought it was important to become involved. And it freed me up to spend a lot of time with helping to coordinate and conduct the tests with the citizens.
Then at the same time doing our own parallel investigation into how the city was able to claim LEAD was below the federal action level when Virginia Tech was finding it to be far above the action level.
They [City] were basically exploiting loopholes in the law that effectively skewed the test low. So, these are all parts... but the really inspiring and instructive thing to come out of this is how even when democracy is taken away from them, if people are determined and persevere, can win out against really incredible odds.
You have all the power of the state that was working against these people.
They were not getting any help from the local media who were writing some of these activists off as being hysterical or however else they might have characterized them and certainly not give them any credibility without investigating really what the government was claiming.
Flint Water Crisis Playlist