Rick Snyder charged in Flint water crisis

Former Gov. charged with neglect, Ferris student reflects on growing up amid the crisis

The former Michigan Governor, Rick Snyder, was charged with two counts of neglect of duty on Jan. 14, following the 2014 Flint water crisis. On Monday, Jan. 25, his attorneys filed a motion to dismiss the charges on the basis of jurisdiction.

Amere Blake is a senior at Ferris studying business administration. He is from Flint, and was in high school during the water crisis, and he saw firsthand the devastating effects on his community 

“I feel like it’s long overdue. The facts have been proven that he did some things that were insensitive to people of Flint,” Blake said. “It was an issue that unraveled and went national in 2016 and 2017 but it really was a problem since 2014. He let things get out of hand, let things become inhumane as far as a city not being able to use its own water.” 

Back in 2014, state officials decided to switch Flint’s main water supply to the Flint River, which was supposed to save the city money.

After the switch of the water supply other state officials forgot to require the city to treat the water, and test the pipes that were sitting, waiting to be used in more than eight years. This caused lead to seep into the water supply creating a breeding ground for bacteria. 

The water started to turn a black and brown, became foul smelling but no warning was put out about the water. 

By the end of 2014, cases of Legionaries, a disease from ingesting bacteria, rose to 40 and three people were confirmed dead from the disease.

It was not till 2015 where state officials started to talk about the rising cases, and not until 2016 when Rick Snyder finally announced the outbreak of Legionnaires’ only 18 months after the cases started. 

This week Snyder pled ‘not guilty’ on each misdemeanor count of neglect of duty regarding his involvement in the Flint water crisis. The charges carry up to a $1000 fine as well as up to a year in prison if he is found guilty.  

Blake explained that in the midst of the water crisis their water was brown and it smelled bad. Due to this, they used bottled water to do everything from dish washing, to cleaning and everything in between. 

“I had to go to the nicer side of town where my grandma was at to use the water and take a shower,” Blake said.  

It became a national issue and residents marched and protested the city’s water problems. However, Snyder failed to switch the water supply for 17 months.  

“It was evident that in the nicer neighborhoods or the suburbs the water was fine. So, it showed that it was a real problem as far as the pipe system was within the inner city, within the side of town where a lot of Blacks stay. Which is another attest to how systemic racism works,” Blake said.  

Even today, many people in Flint are still skeptical to use the water. After being told it was safe years ago when it was not, they don’t want to risk it 

“I know a lot of people who (still) use bottled water to at least cook, they don’t want to come close to having the lead in their system,” said Blake.  

While things have gotten better in Flint, they still aren’t back to normal. Blake explained that many people’s water pipes have been fixed, but not everyone’s. In addition, there is still a lot of fear surrounding drinking tap water, even years later.  

Attorney General Dana Nessel is expected to announce more information on the specific charges Snyder faces in the coming days.