Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Kamryn, Payton, and Tra'Vaughn Lightfoot tested positive for lead, and the family has now joined a class action lawsuit to hold local and state officials responsible. (Photo: Courtesy Lightfoot Family)

Knowing "Spotlight Will Pass," Community Seeks Answers for Flint's Future

"It's an atrocity, what's happening here. It shouldn't be happening in America, but it is."

Deirdre Fulton

After fresh calls for Gov. Rick Snyder's resignation emerged from Sunday night's Democratic debate in Flint, Michigan, local and national activists came together Monday morning to bear witness to and demand concrete solutions for the city's ongoing lead-poisoning crisis.

"It's an atrocity, what's happening here," actor and environmentalist Mark Ruffalo said at a press conference at St. Michael’s Roman Catholic Church in Flint, where he was flanked by Flint Rising community organizers as well as representatives of national groups like Green for All and NextGen Climate. "It shouldn't be happening in America, but it is."

"It goes against the very nature of American democracy to subject citizens to the mistreatment that the residents of Flint have borne the brunt of for years," added Van Jones, former green jobs advisor to President Barack Obama and founder of Green For All, who joined Ruffalo in calling for Obama to declare the situation a national disaster. "Situations like Flint don't develop overnight; they are the result of long-standing neglect from all parts of our society."

The event marked the launch of the Support For Flint's Future bus tour, which will make visits across the beleaguered city in order to "provide a megaphone for the community leaders and organizations working to address the crisis in Flint," according to Vien Truong, director of Green For All. 

"Residents have gone through some of the worst years in recent history and now deserve the best the country has to offer—in expertise, support and resources to help Flint make a comeback," she said. 

Specifically, the campaign will support and highlight three key demands from local group Flint Rising:

  1. Reimbursements for residents that have been forced to continue paying for contaminated water;
  2. New pipes that deliver clean drinking water, with the jobs going to local residents; and
  3. Long-term infrastructure investments in Flint to counter the brutal financial impact of the crisis.

Indeed, such support is critical as the community prepares to inevitably move out of the public eye. "This has been a spotlight here...that will pass," said organizer Art Reyes on Monday. "That's why it's critical that we're building local power."

Snyder, for his part, used the occasion of the debate to blame government bureaucracy for the public health emergency in Flint.

Meanwhile, seven Flint families filed a class action lawsuit on Monday against Snyder as well as government officials and corporations. Seeking a jury trial and unspecified damages, the suit—one of several to have been filed over the last few months—alleges that tens of thousands of residents have suffered physical and economic injuries and damages as a result of the water crisis, while officials failed to take action over "dangerous levels of lead" in drinking water and "downplayed the severity of the contamination."

People are tweeting about the Flint's Future campaign under the hashtag #FlintRising:


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

Please select a donation method:

Biden, Pelosi, and Schumer Told 'Stop Playing the Blame Game' and Extend Eviction Moratorium

"Who are the adults in the room?" asked the Sunrise Movement's advocacy director. "Do whatever it takes to extend the eviction moratorium and end this eviction emergency."

Jessica Corbett ·


Report Outlines 'Crucial' Need for Biden Administration to Aid Climate Refugees

"Ready solutions are available to address root causes and displacement that are centered in human rights and humanitarian protection."

Brett Wilkins ·


Hundreds Arrested in DC Demanding Voting Rights, End to Poverty, and Death of Filibuster

Clergy and low-wage workers with the Poor People's Campaign are also calling on Congress to treat the nation's immigrants with respect.

Jessica Corbett ·


'He Should Resign': Women's Rights Group Denounces Violent Misogyny of Kevin McCarthy

"With Kevin McCarthy voting against the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, it is clear that his comments are reflective of his deeply held beliefs about how women should be treated."

Brett Wilkins ·


Amid Allegations of Child Endangerment, HHS Inspector General to Probe Fort Bliss Detention Facility

Whistleblowers had sounded alarm about the detention center contractors betraying children’s health and wellbeing.

Andrea Germanos ·