Protestors demand resignation of Gov. Snyder for Flint water crisis
A dozen students protested near the Charles V. Park Library Friday, declaring that Gov. Rick Snyder should be removed from office for his handling of the Flint water crisis.
Chanting "Clean water is a right, not just for the rich and white," and "Rick Snyder has got to go" students in the group also said lead-contaminated drinking water in Flint occurred due to government corruption. Protestors said they want to challenge the apathy of students at Central Michigan University and raise awareness about #ProjectSaveFlint, an effort between members of the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity at University of Michigan-Flint.
"These people are doomed, they will die because that is the consequences of drinking lead for two years and bathing in it, cooking their food with it and cleaning their bodies with it," said Detroit senior Darrel Long. "At the end of the day, no one is doing anything about it because it doesn't affect them. When things don't affect people, its easier for them to brush it off."
The group is not affiliated with any student organization at CMU, but is working to deliver cases of water to families in Flint.
Long said the crisis is a civil rights issue and would have been solved earlier if the contamination occurred in a white suburban city. He and Detroit senior Arthur Cofield said their faith in their political leaders was shaken after learning of how the city switched to the local Flint River as a temporary water source as a cost-saving measure until a regional water system was finished.
Flint River water is corrosive, which leached lead off the older water service lines in Flint. According to federal regulations, the water should have been properly treated with an anticorrosion agent, but it wasn’t.
Even small amounts of lead can cause serious health problems. Children under the age of 6 are especially vulnerable to lead poisoning, which can severely affect mental and physical development. At very high levels, lead poisoning can be fatal.
"Most politicians are corrupt, its all about money and they are not about the people," Cofield said. "The people need to be more informed and shouldn't listen to the mainstream media and accept what they hear. If you don't do anything, these people will keep getting re-elected and keep doing fraudulent things."
Other students weren't as sure that Snyder is to blame.
"I don't think it's Rick Snyder's fault, I think he's doing a good job," said Brighton freshman Josh Lazzari. "I would say it's more the fault of the Department of Environmental Quality. I thought (his apology) was sincere but it came a little late."
Snyder used the first 20 minutes of Tuesday's State of the State address taking responsibility for the crisis and explaining a six-item plan to fix contamination issues with Flint drinking water. He also released emails related to the water crisis from 2014 and 2015, despite the governor's office being having no obligation to from the Michigan Freedom of Information Act.
Long believes it is too little, too late.
"You can't ask someone who has oppressed you to do right by you," he said. "If I have already harmed you to this level, there's no such mercy from oppressors. We just celebrated Martin Luther King Day. He spoke against politicians that swore to do right by the people, not put money before the people. (Snyder) hasn't done that."
Some students quickly moved past the protest while on their way to the Bovee University Center, but others stopped and talked with the demonstrators. Wayne freshman Victoria Boyd-Jennings said she was not well educated on where the blame should lie, but seeing the demonstrators encouraged her to learn more about the situation.