Last week, the Michigan Supreme Court threw out charges against former Michigan Governor Rick Snyder and eight others who played key roles in creating the Flint water crisis of 2014, saying that a judge overreached and had no authority to issue indictments.
The charges were leveled against nine state and city leaders who played pivotal roles in deciding to switch Flint’s water source to the Flint River – a decision that corroded lead pipes throughout the city, poisoned residents, and became one of the largest public health crises in recent history.
The “money-saving” measure to switch Flint’s drinking water source from the Detroit Water Authority to the Flint River caused an outbreak of Legionnaire’s disease, killing 12 people and sickening dozens more. And it leached lead from pipes throughout the city: the CDC estimates 99,000 residents were exposed to lead poisoning in that eighteen-month period.
The impact of drinking that lead-poisoned water will be felt throughout the Flint community for generations. “People are falling sick and dying all the time because of the long-term impacts of drinking Flint water,” says Nayyirah Shariff, grassroots organizer and director of Flint Rising, a coalition of Flint residents and community groups, labor, and progressive allies that formed in response to Flint’s emergency declaration.
Shariff joined 8 O’Clock Buzz host Jan Miyasaki to talk about the history and impact of the water crisis, the Michigan Supreme Court’s decision to throw out indictments against former Governor Snyder and others, and what comes next in the fight for accountability.