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Today marks the 5th anniversary of the Flint Water Crisis. I write this as not only the Mayor of this strong city but also, as a fellow resident, who was affected by this environmental injustice. We have had plenty of time to question and wonder why human life, more specifically our lives, could be held at such a low regard. We have gone through every emotion possible when something like this happens; the anger, the confusion, the devastation, the fear of the unknown, are all things we’ve felt as a collective.
One thing is for certain, we were strong, revolutionary fighters for justice and equality before this and in going through this, our resilience and grit have only gotten stronger. As a result of this, the country got to see just how far we still have to go as it relates to not only dealing with racism and classism, but our crisis placed a huge spotlight on the need for newer infrastructure and stronger environmental protections.
We came together during one of the hardest times many of us have ever faced and we spoke out as one. Our grassroots groups, Pastors, faith communities, and everyday residents did not sit silently and accept what had taken place and as a result of the collective voice of Flint residents, the world stopped and paid attention. Just as we have changed the structure of systems before by using our voices, we are doing so now. The State of Michigan has changed the way that it addresses lead and copper because of us. The country is having a long overdue conversation and push toward change as it relates to infrastructure and water because of us.
We would not wish what happened to us on anyone, we took what happened to us and turned it into an opportunity to make sure that this would not happen on this level ever again anywhere in the country, and where there are other water and infrastructure related injustices, we take them with us as we speak out.
While we may not be completely through this crisis just yet, we are recovering and we are recovering in a way that only Flintstones can. Our voices caused national attention that brought resources here to replace the lead and galvanized service lines; with 21, 298 lines excavated, we are ahead of schedule and due to complete the replacement process by the fall. Our voices caused us to have economic opportunities leading to 2,000 jobs in our city. Our voices caused the philanthropic community to come to our aid, as a result, our children now have access to technology that they may not have gotten any other way. Our voices got the attention of the federal government, as a result, we have housing being built on both the north and the south end. We will continue to use those same voices to address our in home plumbing and fixtures needs, to continue addressing the mental health needs of ALL residents who were affected by this trauma. We will use our voices to continue on the path to being made whole.
On this day, the 5th anniversary of an avoidable traumatic experience, the flags at Flint City Hall will fly at half-staff. We will not forget what happened here, nor will we allow the country to forget.
I want to remind all of the residents of this great city that we are stronger together because of what we have been through. That we are moving forward and there is a spirit of hope in this city that we have been missing for quite some time. That hope is helping us to heal.
Your Fellow Flintstone and Mayor,
Dr. Karen W. Weaver