The Rev. Jesse Jackson told a church congregation in Flint, Mich., Sunday that the city’s water crisis “is a disaster, not just an emergency,” the Detroit Free Press reports.
His comments came one day after President Barack Obama declared a federal emergency and authorized the release of federal resources to alleviate Flint’s lead-contaminated water crisis.
Jackson said, “Maybe they should put … tape around the city, because Flint is a crime scene.”
He pointed the finger of guilt at Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, saying that he’s ultimately responsible for the man-made catastrophe. Jackson added that Snyder has “betrayed” the largely black and poor community.
In 2014, officials switched the city’s water source from Lake Huron to the Flint River to save money. But water from the polluted river caused the city’s pipes to corrode and seep toxic levels of lead into the drinking water.
Flint residents complained immediately about their water’s odor, taste and color. But officials ignored their complaints and downplayed medical evidence of elevated lead levels in children.
Critics say that state officials knew for months that the water supply was unsafe before Snyder finally decided to declare a state of emergency Jan. 5 and sought help from Washington.
Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette said Friday that he has launched a probe into the lead contamination of Flint’s drinking water. Others are calling for the resignation of the besieged governor. A recall-petition campaign is under way.
Film director Michael Moore, a Flint native, held a rally in the city Saturday. He said the water contamination was intentional. “This is not a mistake. Ten people have been killed here because of a political decision,” he stated. “They did this. They knew.”
The pop icon Cher has also been a fierce critic of Snyder. She called the governor a “murderer” on social media, CBS News reported. On Saturday she announced a partnership with the water company Icelandic Glacial to send more than 180,000 bottles of water to Flint. The water is scheduled to arrive Wednesday at a food bank for distribution to low-income-housing areas.