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Topics

On World Water Day, See Our Extended Interview with Flint Activists Nayyirah Shariff & Melissa Mays


Guests
Melissa Mays

a Flint activist and founder of Water You Fighting For?

Nayyirah Shariff

a coordinator with the Flint Democracy Defense League.

As communities mark World Water Day, we turn to Part 2 of our extended conversation with Flint water activists Nayyirah Shariff and Melissa Mays. We spoke to them after Michigan Republican Governor Rick Snyder testified for the first time before Congress about lead poisoning in the water supply of Flint, Michigan, which began after he appointed an unelected emergency manager who switched the source of the city’s drinking water to the corrosive Flint River. Snyder testified along with EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy and Flint’s former emergency manager, Darnell Earley, who refused to appear at last month’s hearing despite a subpoena from the U.S. House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. Melissa Mays is an activist and founder of Water You Fighting For?, a Flint, Michigan-based research and advocacy organization founded around the city’s water crisis. She and her three children suffer from long-term exposure to heavy metals because of the water supply. Nayyirah Shariff is a coordinator with the Flint Democracy Defense League.


TRANSCRIPT
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman, as we continue with Part 2 of our coverage of this week’s congressional hearings held on the lead poisoning of the water supply of Flint, Michigan. One of the most tense exchanges on Thursday was between Governor Rick Snyder—the Michigan governor was testifying for the first time in Congress around the poisoning of the Flint water supply—and Congressman Matt Cartwright, a Democrat from Pennsylvania.

REP. MATT CARTWRIGHT: Your task force found that your officials at MDEQ did not implement corrosion control, which, quote, "led directly to the contamination of the Flint water system." Do you admit that here today?

GOV. RICK SNYDER: The lack of corrosion controls led to this issue.

REP. MATT CARTWRIGHT: And you admit that it was your officials at MDEQ that did not implement corrosion control, which led to that, right?

GOV. RICK SNYDER: They did not instruct the city of Flint to do corrosion controls.

REP. MATT CARTWRIGHT: Is that a yes?

GOV. RICK SNYDER: Again, they wouldn’t be doing the corrosion controls. That’s a city responsibility. But they failed in what I deem would have been commonsense to say they should have.

REP. MATT CARTWRIGHT: The mayor asked you repeatedly to come to Flint during the crisis. Do you admit today you didn’t show up for more than seven months after he asked you?

GOV. RICK SNYDER: Actually, I’m not familiar. I’d have to check my schedule.

REP. MATT CARTWRIGHT: Well, that’s what he says. You didn’t go to Flint until October 2015, is that right?

GOV. RICK SNYDER: I don’t know if that’s correct or not.

REP. MATT CARTWRIGHT: You don’t know. ... Plausible deniability only works when it’s plausible, and I’m not buying that you didn’t know about any of this until October 2015. You were not in a medically induced coma for a year. And I’ve had about enough of your false contrition and your phony apologies. Susan Hedman from the EPA bears not one-tenth of the responsibility of the state of Michigan and your administration, and she resigned. And there you are, dripping with guilt, but drawing your paycheck, hiring lawyers at the expense of the people, and doing your dead level best to spread accountability to others and not being accountable. It’s not appropriate. Pretty soon, we will have men who strike their wives saying, "I’m sorry, dear, but there were failures at all levels." People who put dollars over the fundamental safety of the people do not belong in government, and you need to resign, too, Governor Snyder.

AMY GOODMAN: There you have it. That was Pennsylvania Democratic Congressman Matt Cartwright questioning, going after Michigan Governor Rick Snyder, who was testifying for the first time before Congress around the poisoning of Flint’s water supply.

Our guests are two of the leading activists in Flint, Michigan, residents of Flint. Nayyirah Shariff is coordinator with the Flint Democracy Defense League. And Melissa Mays is with us, activist and founder of Water You Fighting For? That’s W-A-T-E-R, Water You Fighting For?, a Flint, Michigan-based research and advocacy group founded around Flint’s water crisis. She and her three children suffer from long-term exposure to heavy metals.

Melissa, that interaction, you were right there. Nayyirah, you were right there. Did we learn anything new from the governor?

MELISSA MAYS: No, he did what we thought he was going to do. He danced around, gave the long answers, gave the positive PR spin that he was going to do. But a few things did come out, like he mentioned he was aware of water issues in 2014. He had never said that before. So, we’re getting deeper and deeper into it. So there was little bits and pieces that were good.

AMY GOODMAN: So, there has been this trickle of releases of email. Michigan is unusual. It’s one of the only states in the country where you can’t FOIA—you know, get under Freedom of Information Act—information from the Michigan Governor’s Office, right?

MELISSA MAYS: Yes.

AMY GOODMAN: But these emails have been released. How have they gotten out? And what have you learned from the email leaks or releases?

MELISSA MAYS: The overall picture is that no one cared. They all knew about it. They were more worried about like covering their legal issues and their legal possible responsibilities and just brushing us off. I mean, Susan Hedman’s email said that Flint isn’t a community that she’d go out on a limb for. And that right there, that infuriated me, because, you know, obviously—

AMY GOODMAN: Susan Hedman being one of the heads, the—what, Region 5—

MELISSA MAYS: Yes.

AMY GOODMAN: —of the EPA, who has resigned.

MELISSA MAYS: Yes.

AMY GOODMAN: And she also testified.

MELISSA MAYS: With that email right there, she should have been fired as an example.

AMY GOODMAN: What did she say in the email?

MELISSA MAYS: That Flint is not a community that they’d go out on a limb for. Yes.

AMY GOODMAN: And who did she say that to?

MELISSA MAYS: She said that to other members of the EPA. She was—were going back and forth about the emerging lead crisis.

AMY GOODMAN: And explain the report that she squelched, that came from her own staff scientist, EPA staff scientist Miguel Del Toral.

MELISSA MAYS: He wrote what he found, that laws were being broken, they weren’t adhering to the Lead and Copper Rule, that there was a widespread lead problem. He had already tested several homes that came back very high. And he sounded the alarm that this is an issue and it’s probably the entire city. And they squelched it, saying it was incomplete, that—you know, the MDEQ referred to him as a rogue employee. And then we didn’t hear from him for weeks after that. We couldn’t communicate, and we had to fight. We still had to fight with it. But it—

AMY GOODMAN: She apologized—Hedman, who has resigned now since from the EPA, she apologized to the city of Flint, the government there, for that report at the time?

MELISSA MAYS: Yes, saying that it was nothing to worry about, yes. So, again, her resigning was not heroic. I’m sorry, Gina McCarthy, it was not heroic that she did that. She should have been fired. She should have been disciplined, because look what happened as a result of her actions.

AMY GOODMAN: You met with Gina McCarthy, the head of the EPA, this week?

MELISSA MAYS: Yes. Yes, we did. We sat down with her to discuss the new water results that are coming from several homes, including my own. We’re still having rashes. People are breaking open, their skins bleeding, and nobody can tell us why. The CDC is testing and can’t figure it out.

AMY GOODMAN: Who has these rashes?

MELISSA MAYS: A large part of the community, different races, backgrounds, ages. And we’ve had them since, you know, 2014. They burn. They peel off. It feels like your skin’s just ripping off. And hair is still falling out. And no one can address it. So we got connected with Mark Ruffalo and Scott Smith from Water Defense, who has been testing water heaters and bathtubs, the way you would normally use water, and we’re finding all sorts of scary things. Chloroform is sky high, as well as—

AMY GOODMAN: How is chloroform in your water?

MELISSA MAYS: It’s a byproduct of too much chlorine and whatever else is in our water. And that’s the scary part, is we just don’t know.

AMY GOODMAN: But the thing is, you already, finally, despite what everyone has tried to prevent from happening in the Michigan government, you have been disconnected from the Flint River, and you are reconnected to the Detroit water supply.

MELISSA MAYS: Yes. Unfortunately, the Flint River, the 18 months it was on it, absolutely corroded the entire infrastructure. So we’re dealing with main breaks, bacteria, all the corrosion that lives and feeds off of—the bacteria that feeds off of that corrosion. And we’re breathing it in in the shower, because most of us can’t afford to bathe in bottled water. And like Nayyirah said, they give you a case. That’s not enough.

AMY GOODMAN: OK, now, Nayyirah Shariff, what is the situation with the bottled water supply right now? So you are not using the water that’s coming through your taps, is that right?

NAYYIRAH SHARIFF: For the most part. Many people cannot afford to go around town to cobble together the bottled water for their basic needs. So the state—at the state distribution sites, which are at the fire stations, residents are only limited to one case of water per day.

AMY GOODMAN: How many bottles is one case of water? We got one when we went to Flint a few weeks ago, that was just handed to us freely. Actually, it was Ice Mountain water, right? Made by Nestlé Waters—

MELISSA MAYS: Yeah.

NAYYIRAH SHARIFF: Yeah.

AMY GOODMAN: —two hours away, bottled by them, taken essentially for free from Lake Michigan, bottled, and then the people of Flint have to pay for it if it’s beyond the case that you get.

NAYYIRAH SHARIFF: Yeah, so it’s about 24 to 40 bottles, depending on the brand. So, at the state-distributed fire stations, it’s one case of water per day. Many churches—

AMY GOODMAN: How many people does that serve? Do you have to show how many kids you have in your family?

NAYYIRAH SHARIFF: No, that’s one per household.

AMY GOODMAN: And, I mean, with the little bottled water, obviously, you can’t take a shower with that. If you bathe with that, you can’t use it for anything else, because there’s not enough water.

NAYYIRAH SHARIFF: Yeah, because people are cooking—need it for cooking. According to the EPA, pregnant women and children under six should only use bottled water. And so you have people making value judgments based on what to cook, what to eat, how to shower, how to bathe, based on how many bottles of water they have in their homes per day.

AMY GOODMAN: So, what is happening now with Governor Snyder? I mean, you see the Democrats calling for him to resign in the House, but is there a recall effort right now in Michigan?

NAYYIRAH SHARIFF: There’s actually two recall efforts, one by Flint resident Quincy Murphy and then another one by Detroit Pastor David Bullock. And they’re going—it’s going to launch later on in the month, but they need nearly a million signatures in 60 days to put it on the ballot.

AMY GOODMAN: And what would it—what would it actually do?

NAYYIRAH SHARIFF: If people vote yes on it, then Governor Snyder will be recalled, and we will have a special election to elect a new governor.

AMY GOODMAN: And who exactly is behind it, the recall effort?

NAYYIRAH SHARIFF: Well, we have Flint resident Quincy Murphy, and then we have another recall effort by a Detroit pastor, David Bullock. And they’re right now in some sort of unity session. So we’re going to figure out which one is going to move forward.

AMY GOODMAN: Now, your organization, the Flint Democracy Defense League, we went to a meeting of it when we were in Flint at a local restaurant.

NAYYIRAH SHARIFF: Yes.

AMY GOODMAN: What does democracy have to do with water?

NAYYIRAH SHARIFF: Well, you cannot—this water crisis is because we have a democracy crisis in Michigan, and it’s the emergency manager law. And when you look at Flint, which we’re still paying a premium price for poison water, and in Detroit, where they’re still having shutoffs, this is—this is like a tool for privatization and to take away and wrest away municipal water systems away from the hands of the people and turn it over to either regionalized efforts or to privatized, transnational corporations like Veolia.

AMY GOODMAN: What’s Veolia?

NAYYIRAH SHARIFF: Veolia is a for-profit water system—water company, and they do transportation. And they’re in the water business.

AMY GOODMAN: Melissa Mays, you have new information about tests of the water?

MELISSA MAYS: Yes. We’ve been asking for a very long time. We went and did, of course, the private testing with—the independent testing with Virginia Tech, proved that there was a lead and copper problem. But now that everybody’s so focused on that, they’re not really digging into what’s causing the rashes. So we found that there’s a ton of different industrial solvents, sewage runoff, chloroform, as well as so many different damaging carcinogens in our water right now. So we’re able to work with Water Defense, which is testing for everything in our water. And hopefully we have the answers as to what’s causing the rashes. We delivered these results to Gina McCarthy, and I explained how the testing was done and that she needed to work with Water Defense to get this information out to the citizens.

AMY GOODMAN: Gina McCarthy, the head of the EPA.

MELISSA MAYS: Yes. They are in Flint right now with the CDC. And I said, "This needs to be done, because people are in pain, they’re bleeding, and the state’s ignoring us still."

AMY GOODMAN: Talk about your own family. You have three kids.

MELISSA MAYS: Yes.

AMY GOODMAN: Boys?

MELISSA MAYS: Yes, all boys.

AMY GOODMAN: How old?

MELISSA MAYS: Eleven, 12 and 17.

AMY GOODMAN: So, take us through April 2014 to now and what happened to all of you.

MELISSA MAYS: In 2014, we started getting rashes on our arms, our backs, our faces. And you couldn’t put lotion on it. We would get the expensive eczema cream, oatmeal scrubs, all these things to try to soothe the pain, and nothing worked. And also, in about August or September, we started losing our hair by the handful, all five of us, including my husband. Just you would just wipe your hair out and just have a handful of hair sitting there. And I said, "OK, maybe I’m stressed out. Maybe it’s stress. And maybe the kids aren’t getting enough vitamins. So maybe that’s why we’re all tired." And it’s all these excuses you make in your head, because you never want to think that the water is actually poison. And, of course, the city and state’s telling us, "It’s just harder water because it’s river. That’s the only thing. It’s perfectly safe. You’re fine," even though we had E. coli boil notices, so we had fecal coliform in our water. "It’s fine. It’s safe. Just boil it." So, as—

AMY GOODMAN: Now, wait a second, just one second, on this, because we were there, and we saw these signs. On the one had, they told you to boil your water. But we saw those signs on the side of the road that said, "Don’t boil your water, because it concentrates the lead when you evaporate off the water."

MELISSA MAYS: Exactly. And so then you’re ingesting more metals. And also, all the other contaminants, like the cancer-causing byproducts, are released in the steam, so you’re inhaling all of that. So by telling us to boil the water to get the bacteria out put us more in danger. So, again, the state had no idea what they were doing and should have never have been in control of the water, because it was a complete disaster from day one. And so, now here we are facing long-term lead and copper exposure. We have high aluminum in our water, which of course is terrible for your brain. I’m having seizures, tremors. I just had polyps removed from my stomach, which are caused by bacteria in the water, last week, and as well as diverticulosis, osteoarthritis. My sons are now starting to fail. My oldest, he’s so smart, he tested into a dual enrollment school where he’s taking college courses at the same time so he can graduate—

AMY GOODMAN: How old is he?

MELISSA MAYS: He’s 17—and so he can graduate with a diploma and associate’s degree. He’s got a D average. He’s in daily tutoring now. He was smart enough to test in, and now he’s completely sidetracked. And my sons, their bones hurt. They can’t play sports. They get tired too easy. They’re anemic. Their white—my youngest, my baby, his white blood cell count is four. So, any—

AMY GOODMAN: What’s it supposed to be?

MELISSA MAYS: Ten to 14 for a healthy child, which is what he was before all this. And we’re told that the long-term effects of heavy metals, you know, exposure is not see for up to five years. So, here we are. We’ve got three, four more years to wonder what’s going to happen to the kids, what’s going to happen to us. My husband is sick constantly, and he’s never been sick. He’s that big Brutus guy that never gets sick, and here he’s constantly sick. He’s constantly dizzy, passing out. It’s just things that you never would have expected, and we totally took our water for granted. And now we fight, because just the way that they treat water as a commodity can kill people. People have died.

AMY GOODMAN: So, what are you—talk about people dying.

MELISSA MAYS: The Legionnaires’, they didn’t tell us it was in the water. They told us it was no big deal. All these people, including my son, had pneumonia in the summertime. My youngest had pneumonia in the summertime. They said, "Oh, it’s just pneumonia. It’ll be fine." Well, what the state knew and didn’t tell, as well as our county health department, that Legionnaires’, which is—it’s a bacteria. Legionella is in the water. It’s released into steam, so when you shower, you inhale it. Ten people died. They said it was no big deal, it didn’t exist. There were 87 confirmed cases. And because the state never told the doctors to test for it, we don’t know how many unconfirmed cases, like my son. And my son could have died if he wasn’t treated properly.

AMY GOODMAN: But there were 10 confirmed cases of people dying of Legionnaires’ disease.

MELISSA MAYS: People dying.

AMY GOODMAN: I want to turn back to the congressional hearings held over the Flint water crisis in Washington this week. This is California Congressman Ted Lieu questioning the former Flint emergency manager, Darnell Earley.

REP. TED LIEU: So, even though you regularly, as you said, regularly met with water treatment plant officials, you had no idea that their water treatment plant operator has said, "I am not ready to go on this." You had no idea?

DARNELL EARLEY: No, there was no discussion on that in our regular meetings. What was going on—

REP. TED LIEU: All right, stop. Stop right there. You also testified that this was not a leadership issue, this was purely a water treatment issue. I suggest that this was a leadership issue, if you had no idea, even though you had regular meetings, that this water treatment plant operator was making these statements that he was not ready to go. I’m curious. You know, Mr. Walling, I commend him for saying, "I’m sorry," for apologizing. That took courage. Mr. Earley, I don’t see it anywhere in your testimony. Are you ready to say you’re sorry?

DARNELL EARLEY: What I’ve said and will say again is that, you know, I was responsible. It happened on my watch.

REP. TED LIEU: Are you sorry?

DARNELL EARLEY: I feel very badly about that. And yes, I’m sorry that the people of the city of Flint have had to go through—I’ve said that earlier—this crisis. It tears me up inside. I’m very regretful and remorseful for what’s happened.

AMY GOODMAN: That was Darnell Earley. He was the Flint emergency manager, who answered directly to Governor Snyder, who was the one who basically flipped the switch, who in April of 2014 approved the cutting off of Flint from its traditional water supply for 50 years, the Detroit water supply, and turned to the corrosive Flint River. Nayyirah Shariff, how do you feel when you see him say he’s very sorry that you all have suffered.

NAYYIRAH SHARIFF: Well, we don’t need his apologies. In late October, he sent—he had an op-ed in the Detroit Free Press basically slamming our local—our local City Council and saying that they approved the switch and he had no culpability or responsibility in that. So that is totally offensive. And he lied in Congress.

AMY GOODMAN: Does he live in Flint?

NAYYIRAH SHARIFF: No, he does not. And he’s never lived in Flint.

AMY GOODMAN: But talk about how this happened. I mean, not only—it was the Flint emergency manager who ultimately made this decision, is that right? At the point where an emergency manager is put into a city, basically the mayor and the elected city council work for him. They’re his employees.

NAYYIRAH SHARIFF: True. Under Public Act 4 and then PA 436, once an emergency manager comes into your city, the local mayor and the city council’s salaries are zeroed out. And through executive orders, the emergency manager determines their salaries and their job responsibilities. So, basically, they get—they receive job descriptions.

AMY GOODMAN: Darnell Earley was the one who made the decision ultimately for the flipping of the switch. Melissa Mays, is there any truth to him saying, "No, the City Council approved it, too."

MELISSA MAYS: Absolutely not. The City Council voted to go to the Karegnondi Water Authority in 2016, so later this year—had nothing to do with going to the Flint River in the interim. That was a decision by the emergency managers and held up by the emergency managers, Earley and Ambrose. We went to them. We screamed, "Our water is bad! We’re getting sick! We need help!" And we were told that the decision was incomprehensible, just too expensive.

AMY GOODMAN: Now, this is absolutely key, because we were just in Flint, and we were talking to the city councilman who introduced the resolution to return. And this was when? In March of 2015.

MELISSA MAYS: Yes.

AMY GOODMAN: They voted seven to one to return to the Detroit water supply. And the next day, the new emergency manager at the time, Jerry Ambrose, as you said, called this decision "incomprehensible" and refused. When he ultimately was taken out—no more emergency manager in Flint—is it true that he said, "The one decision that must remain in place for a year after I leave is remaining on the Flint River"?

MELISSA MAYS: Yes. Actually, all of his decisions, all of his orders, nobody could overturn them for one year, which is absolutely ridiculous, because look how many people got sick. But we fought and fought. And even after he left, we were put—had to deal with an emergency—or a city administrator, who was basically a mini emergency manager, who, again, had control over the entire city. And then, of course, we’ve got the Receivership Transition Advisory Board, and so we still have state control in Flint. After the state poisoned us and completely abandoned us, we still have to answer to them.

AMY GOODMAN: So, talk about the price of water now, water bills. You had some of the highest water bills in the country. You were being forced to pay for poisoned water.

MELISSA MAYS: Yes.

AMY GOODMAN: That changed. They were lowered a bit. But you were still being forced to pay for your poisoned water. Now they’ve suspended the bills?

MELISSA MAYS: My bill never went down. They were supposed to lower our bills, because it was found that they were illegally raised, several times. My bill never went down. It actually went up 20 bucks. My balance right now for three months plus an adjustment that they put on is $1,812.81.

AMY GOODMAN: What?

MELISSA MAYS: Yes. That is my bill. And I am no way going to pay that, because, one, my family’s sick. It’s destroyed—I mean, I’ve spent that much money in water heaters that we’ve gone through. And yeah, so, the bills are not suspended. The mailing of them is not suspended, because the governor, in his great wisdom, knowing just how much water we actually use, decided to give us a "credit" towards future purchase of poison water. He said, "Well, we figured people used about 65 percent of the water, you know, to drink and cook. The other 35 percent was flushing the toilet and doing laundry." Even though our water was 100 percent contaminated since April of 2014, he’s giving us a 65 percent credit—not on the service fees, not on the sewer usage, only on the water part, which is the lowest part of the bill.

And so, it’s going to be put on people’s bills only if you’re current. So a lot of people who cannot afford the water or who just stood up and said, "I’m not paying. You’re poisoning my family," are not going to get the credit. We’re not. And if you measure out the credit, it’s only a couple of hundred dollars towards these gigantic bills for future payments. And my thing is, we paid real money for our bills. Why are we not getting real money back? So, there’s all these loopholes, and so every time he, the governor, says, "I’m doing something heroic to save Flint," there’s always a caveat, and it always ends up just hurting us.

AMY GOODMAN: So what has to happen now? Your mayor, Karen Weaver, has called for $55 million, wherever it comes from, to remove all the lead pipes of Flint. Is that happening now?

MELISSA MAYS: There’s been one removal, just one, because the governor hasn’t sent the money yet. He said he was going to send $2 million. It’s not here yet.

AMY GOODMAN: Doesn’t the governor have a $1 billion rainy day fund for the state of Michigan?

MELISSA MAYS: Yes. Yes, he does.

NAYYIRAH SHARIFF: He does. And—

AMY GOODMAN: Nayyirah?

NAYYIRAH SHARIFF: He does. And right now, Kevin Cotter, who’s the speaker of the House in the state of Michigan, says that there’s not going to be any more supplemental funding or supplemental appropriations until the budgeting process is over. So, we need money now. And all of this political games like need to stop, because we need a full-on humanitarian effort. And that $55 million is only for the lead service line replacement. It does not even begin to—which is going to be in the billions and billions of dollars of psychological damage, the long-term medical needs and wraparound services that this community needs. We need lifetime Medicare for all to cover like the medical needs of Flint residents long term.

AMY GOODMAN: What difference has it made electing Mayor Karen Weaver? She is the first woman mayor of Flint and the also African-American mayor of Flint. She’s a psychologist. When she declared a state of emergency in Flint, which no one quite understood even what that meant, but it was one of her first acts as mayor, what did that do?

NAYYIRAH SHARIFF: Well, it really triggered this entire tsunami that we find ourselves in and catapulted the water crisis to a national stage, because she actually ran on that platform, that that was going to be the first act that she did. And she did it within a month after taking office.

AMY GOODMAN: So what are you calling for now, Melissa? And have you ever considered moving out of Flint?

MELISSA MAYS: We’re calling—we support our mayor. What she’s doing is fantastic. She’s actually worked with the city of Lansing to find a cheaper, more efficient way to replace the lead service lines, because, overall, the galvanized need to be replaced, as well as the copper. All the metals are just too corroded. They need to be replaced, as well as interior plumbing and water heaters. So, we are demanding that the president declare this a—not an emergency, but a disaster area, so it will open up funding, so we don’t have to sit here and wait on the state, because they’re obviously not helping us.

As for moving, we’ve thought about it. I love my house. I love my house. We fought to get it. I love our lives here—aside from the water. But who’s going to buy my poison water house? And there is no way I am going to get anywhere near what I owe on it. We’re seven years into a mortgage. Nobody’s going to swoop in and buy this house for what I owe. So we would lose so much. And then, again, we wouldn’t pass inspection. We wouldn’t pass inspection to get the mortgage. And on top of it, the mortgage companies aren’t lending, because we’re in a state of emergency, so they’re not lending funds towards the homes in Flint. So we can’t move out. And then, on a moral standpoint, I can’t be like, "Come buy my house. It’s beautiful, four bedrooms, two bathrooms. It poisoned us. Hopefully you’ll be OK." So, as much as we think about moving, we can’t, financially. Legally, we can’t. And then, on the other hand, I don’t want to leave the people we’re fighting with. So we’re stuck.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, I want to thank you both for being with us, Nayyirah Shariff, coordinator of the Flint Democracy Defense League, and Melissa Mays, activist and founder of Water You Fighting For?, a Flint, Michigan-based research and advocacy group founded around Flint’s water crisis. She and her three children and husband suffer from long-term exposure to their water supply. This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman. Thanks for joining us.

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