More than 100,000 people in Michigan have been suffering for two years as a result of a polluted, lead-contaminated water supply
Thousands of military veterans are expected to descend on Flint, Michigan, to continue their fight against water pollution after helping Native Americans to block the Dakota Access Pipeline from crossing their reservation.
Wes Clark Jr, a veteran screenwriter and activist who organised more than 4,000 veterans to join the protests at Standing Rock, said he is now working on sending a group of veterans to Flint. A date has not yet been set.
“This problem is all over the county. It’s got to be more than veterans,” Mr Clark told the Flint Journal. “People have been treated wrong in this county for a long time.”
Flint resident and veteran who went to Standing Rock, Arthur Woodson, told the Journal that the planned protest in Flint would help to revert media attention to their water crisis.
“All the media attention that was there brought more attention to Standing Rock. The government had a change of heart,” he said.
Indigenous protesters and supporters celebrated a victory over the weekend after the US Departmnet of Defense announced it had blocked permission for the controversial $3.8 billion pipeline to pass under the Missouri River close to the Sioux reservation. Any damage to the pipeline could have polluted the Native Americans’ water supply.
“It was the sheer determination that was shown, the sheer numbers of people who have come to the site, including the veterans, who came today,” Dallas Goldtooth of the Indigenous Environmental Network, told The Independent.
“Veterans For Standing Rock”s GoFundMe page raised more than $1.1 million for food and transportation costs of the protesters and it is hoped they will achieve the same success in Flint.
Michigan governor Rick Snyder switched Flint’s water supply from a Detroit water plant to the Flint River in 2014, which lead to mass poisoning of 100,000 Flint residents as well as inmates in prison who continued to drink the water for months after locals had been warned to drink bottled water instead.
Drinking and bathing in the water led to serious skin problems and even “developmental delays” in children.
The river water, which was found to be 19 times more corrosive than the water from Detroit, resulted in the lead casing of the pipes leaking into the water supply.
A class action lawsuit alleges that Michigan Department of Environmental Quality did not treat the river water with an anti-corrosive agent, which would be a violation of federal law.