Speak Up, Speak Out discusses Flint water crisis, Standing Rock


Lake City Junior Crystal Pendergrass speaks out at the Speak Up Speak Out Student Forum on Feb. 14 in the UC auditorium.

Flint resident Keri Webber said there is no reason in the Great Lakes state that a city is being poisoned.

The community advocate was a panelist during the "Speak Up, Speak Out" open forum Tuesday in the Bovee University Center Auditorium.

"From Flint to Standing Rock: Communities and the Environment," started off with a few short videos explaining the Flint water crisis, which Webber reference, and the dispute over the North Dakota Access Pipeline.

Judy Pamp, a Saginaw Indian Chippewa Tribe member, said she went out to the Standing Rock Indian Reservation in North Dakota over Christmas and experienced having little to no water or heat with the protesters, whose message to the government and oil companies was, "We need clean water, you haven't thought this through."

"As a parent, you remember every glass of water, every meal, everything you ever handed [your children]," Webber said, tearing up.

Webber's entire family was affected by lead poisoning and almost lost one of her daughters to legionnaires' disease, a form of bacterial pneumonia which typically only affects older people.

Lake City junior Crystal Pendergrass, the Flint Water Task Force Chair at Central Michigan University, helped lead a medical team down to Flint last year after being invited by a church.

The area they arrived at was a Hispanic area, which was surprised when they showed up to test the water because of a language barrier that no one had crossed to communicate the lead issue to them, Pendergrass said. The tests for lead were coming up off the charts, and she told a family that they needed to get to Ann Arbor for medical help immediately.

Pendergrass said she plans to take 250 volunteers to Flint in April to help the people living there, which would be the largest number she's taken yet.

Anja Mueller, professor of chemistry, used to live in Germany. In Europe, companies must prove their practices are safe to the government. In the U.S., the government must prove that a company's practices are dangerous before taking action, she said.

Cedric Taylor, assistant professor of sociology, is working on a documentary called "Nor Any Drop to Drink," about the Flint water crisis, saying "complacency is no longer an option."

Taylor encouraged the audience to research their elected officials and to be more politically active, because it matters more now than ever.