A Michigan judge has thrown out felony criminal charges against former state officials accused of playing key roles in the Flint water crisis. The ruling ends a criminal probe of Eden Wells and Nick Lyon, two former leaders of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services who faced nine counts of involuntary manslaughter for failing to promptly report an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease which killed 12 people and sickened dozens. Also avoiding prosecution are former Cabinet members of Republican ex-Governor Rick Snyder, who are accused of knowingly exposing Flint’s residents to dangerous levels of lead in the water supply.
Nayyirah Shariff, a community organizer and director of Flint Rising, tweeted, “We have many people’s lives that have been upended … including my own, and there are no consequences. Justice looks like someone going to jail, held criminally accountable.” This follows a decision in June by Michigan’s Supreme Court to throw out charges against former Governor Rick Snyder and other former officials for their complicity in Flint’s public health emergency. Flint Rising organizer Melissa Mays spoke to Democracy Now! after that ruling.
Melissa Mays: “No one is being held accountable. No one is seeing justice. No one is seeing reparations in Flint. Our homes, our bodies, our lives are still damaged and destroyed, and the people responsible are getting away with it, because, like Nayyirah said, they have a — rich white folk and government have a whole different justice system than the rest of us.”