The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Sam Inglot

Message in a Bottle: Flint Sending Out More Than an SOS

1,000+ “You Owe Me” letters from Flint residents delivered to Snyder, Schuette 

LANSING, Michigan

It's been 1,145 days since the Flint Water Crisis was forced onto the community by a Snyder administration-appointed emergency manager. Today, dozens of residents delivered 1,145 -- one for each day since the crisis began -- "You Owe Me" messages in empty water bottles to Governor Rick Snyder and Attorney General Bill Schuette in Lansing.

"We're sending out a message to Snyder, Schuette and all statewide elected officials: you owe us for the damage done to our bodies, our families, our community, and our sense of security," said Nayyirah Shariff, director of Flint Rising. "It's been over three years since the water crisis was forced on our community by this administration and it's time the people of Flint got what they are owed. We still cannot safely drink the water without a filter, peoples' homes are being taken because we refuse to pay for poison, there are growing health problems, and it's pretty clear the people in Lansing are no longer listening or concerned about the mess they created."

Flint Rising canvassers gathered the letters from residents over the last year, and volunteers assisted in putting each message into empty water bottles for delivery to Lansing. The 1,145 bottles represent each day of the Flint Water Crisis.

The "You Owe Me" letters go far beyond financial issues. People's families have been harmed and folks feel they are owed more than can ever be repaid.

"There is no amount of money that can fix the damage you have done to my children," wrote Amanda Roark and Dennis Rizzo.

Some examples of excerpts from the "You Owe Me" letters include:

  • Paying for contaminated water
  • Being afraid of taking showers and doing the dishes
  • Hospital bills
  • Damaged appliances from corrosive water
  • Trust in elected officials

"The Flint Water Crisis might seem like old news to Snyder, Calley, and Schuette, but it is still a daily reality for everyone in our community," Shariff continued. "In Flint, we've leaned on one another for support and hope. We'll get through this together. However, it would be a welcome change for this administration and other elected officials to step up, read what residents have put to paper, and actually make some change for the city."

Since the crisis began, Flint Rising has been advocating for a set of simple, yet holistic demands: Reimburse residents water bills dating back to when the crisis began and ensure water is free until it is deemed safe, fix all of the pipes in Flint, and provide wraparound education and health services for residents.

Progress Michigan aims to provide a strong credible voice that holds public officials and government accountable, assists in the promotion of progressive ideas and uses state-of-the-art web based new media to creatively build grassroots support for progressive ideas.