Flint, MI– The group doesn’t have a name, but they have a message: the $641.25 million water crisis settlement is not enough for Flint residents.
Pastors, politicians and community activists gathered outside the Flint Water Plant Monday morning to express their discontentment with the terms of the settlement.
“There is a group of us that works together with different organizations around the city…we don’t even agree on a lot of stuff, we have differences of opinion, but we come together when there’s a cause that we think we can agree on,” said Pastor Herbert Miller II of the Metropolitan Baptist Church.
That cause has to do with getting justice for Flint residents impacted by the water crisis.
Last month, The Flint City Council voted to approve a $20 million contribution from the city to the water lawsuit settlement after a great deal of debate. The money will be paid by the city’s insurance.
In doing so, the City joined the State of Michigan, McLaren Hospital, and Rowe Engineering in the settlement.
The terms of the settlement are detailed in a 71-page agreement which can be viewed online here. Almost 79.5% of the settlement funds will go to children, 15% will go to adults, 3% will go to property owners, 2% will go to special education services in Genesee County, and 0.5% will go to business and economic loss.
Activists at the press conference take issue with the settlement amount, the way the funds are distributed, and the requirement of proof of injury for some categories.
“We believe that every citizen who lived in Flint through the water crisis ought to receive some type of compensation,” said Pastor Herbert Miller II of the Metropolitan Baptist Church. “People who had to sit in long lines to get water, those of us who had to go buy water because we haven’t been able to use the water that we’re paying for, people who have had to care for sick family members, lost loved ones, all due to this water crisis.”
Pastor John McClane of Greater Destiny Ministries asked listeners if their children had received a bone lead test.
“The answer to this question is more than likely no,” McClane said. “For this reason, and others…we are gravely concerned that the proposed allocation of settlement proceeds are egregiously unfair to the vast majority of citizens in Flint.”
He spoke about the inequity in accessibility to bone lead testing, a procedure that families would need to travel out of state to receive.
“Ramifications of this lack of access to critical testing means that many needy and deserving children and adults will be deprived of much deserved compensation,” he said.
McClane called the burdens of proof “unprecedented hurdles” for plaintiffs in the case.
“It’s as if these requirements are designed to protect the interest of the powerful and place an oppressive burden of proof upon the innocent– the defenseless children and their parents,” he said.
The group called for Judge Judith Levy to reject the settlement, and implement the changes they requested which include making bone lead testing affordable for children and adults that need it, adjusting the formulas of compensation, and letting people sue if other illnesses or injuries manifest in the future.
The activists plan to protest in front of the U.S. District Courthouse in Ann Arbor on Thursday, Jan. 14 from 1-3 p.m. Judge Levy has yet to preliminarily approve the settlement, and said her decision will come mid-January upon taking into consideration the voices of Flint residents.
“We’re trying to get our voices to her, appeal to her moral, not the legal, the moral imperative of fairness and justice,” said Water Warrior Claire McClinton.
Flint City Councilman Eric Mays said he would also be trying to get the council to work with the city’s attorneys to file a formal communication to Judge Levy regarding the companion resolution the council passed a few weeks ago which outlined council’s concerns with the settlement.