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Angry Flint Residents Flood Michigan State Capitol

Jan 15, 2016

Michigan State Capitol
Credit Pure Michigan / michigan.org

Hundreds of demonstrators marched on the state Capitol yesterday to protest Governor Rick Snyder’s handling of the Flint water crisis.  


Hundreds of demonstrators chanted, “Hey, hey! Ho, ho! Governor Snyder’s got to go!” as they marched on the state Capitol to protest Governor Rick Snyder’s handling of the Flint water crisis.  The line marched two by two and chanted on the snow-lined walkway up to the Capitol.  Collette Metcalf carried a sign that said: “Water is a Human Right.”  “The infrastructure (failure) was caused by Snyder.  He did this.  His emergency manager law,” she said.  “He should be arrested.  He should go to jail.  Immediately.  Now.”

The protesters filed inside the Capitol, continued their chanting, and filled a floor surrounding the Capitol rotunda before leaving to march across the street to the building that houses the governor’s office.  House Minority Leader Tim Greimel (D-Pontiac) talked briefly with some of the demonstrators.  He says the still governor has a lot of questions to answer.  “If the governor personally knew what was going on, and chose not to act in an appropriate, timely way, then he should resign,” he said.  “And that’s the first thing we need to ascertain – what did the governor know and when did he know it.”

The city’s water system was damaged after a succession of state-appointed emergency managers carried out a plan to use the Flint River for drinking water.  The corrosive river water caused lead in old pipes to leach into drinking water.  The governor has declared a state of emergency and called in the State Police and the National Guard to help distribute water testing kits and filters.

Governor Snyder’s budget chief said the administration is in the process of drafting an emergency appropriation to pay for aid to Flint.  “There’s a lot of experts right now sitting in rooms trying to figure out what we need in the interim and what we can do to help,” said Budget Director John Roberts.  He says the proposal will be presented to the Legislature in the next week or two. 

Some people want a budget surplus pegged as high as $300 million to be earmarked for Flint. Roberts says that’s a possibility, as well as using the money for roads or paying down debt.  

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— Rick Pluta is the Managing Editor and Reporter for the Michigan Public Radio network.  Contact WEMU News at 734.487.3363 or email us at studio@wemu.org