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Flint councilman stands by 'genocide' charge

Steve Carmody
Michigan Radio

A Flint city councilman is standing by his statement that the city’s water situation amounts to a “genocide”by Governor Snyder and Flint’s emergency manager.

Councilman Wantwaz Davis made the original “genocide” charge on his Facebook page last Sunday. 

“Either they are trying to run us out of here, the low/moderate income people,” says Davis, “Or inadvertently or intentionally - I hope that it’s inadvertently - I think that it’s going to create a genocide.”

Davis’ accusation drew sharp criticism.  

Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio
Michigan Radio
Gov. Rick Snyder (R-MI)

Governor Snyder’s office issued a written statement:

It’s unfortunate that the councilman made such incendiary and inaccurate remarks. The governor believes all Michigan residents need and deserve safe, clean water. Today, Flint’s water system is producing water that meets all state and federal standards. The state continues working with city leaders to help with the city’s water infrastructure challenges, which were decades in the making. That assistance includes $2 million in grants to help with pipeline leaks and other issues, which will allow the city to prioritize its repairs – part of a long-term solution to the city’s needs.

Flint Emergency Manager Jerry Ambrose also released a statement:

Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio
Michigan Radio
Jerry Ambrose was appointed Flint's emergency manager in January. Previously, he has served as the city's finance director since the state takeover in 2011.

The statement by the mayoral candidate is not only untrue but unnecessarily increases the anxiety of Flint residents about the safety of their drinking water. The quality of Flint’s drinking water has been confirmed to be safe by numerous tests, including tests recently conducted by MDEQ. The most recent tests conducted by MDEQ show Flint water to be within EPA guidelines. These are the same guidelines used to monitor all municipal drinking water systems, including the Detroit system.

But Councilman Davis stands by his charge of genocide.

“Just the mere fact that you know this is haphazard condition and you’re not trying to remedy the problem…instantly it makes a person think….that this is on the verge of a genocide,” says Davis. 

People have complained about health and safety issues in the year since Flint started getting its tap water from the Flint River.

City officials insist Flint’s water is safe to drink.

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.
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