When Obama visited Flint for the first time on Wednesday, what he had to say about the water crisis was the same thing Gov. Snyder has been saying.
President Obama visited Flint, Michigan, home of a huge water crisis that has been plaguing the city for years, for the first time since the issues came to light.
Obama’s day-visit was filled with a briefing on the federal response to the crisis and a meeting with the city’s residents in several locations. The president spent time at a food bank and Northwestern High School, and he drank filtered tap water at both events.
Rather than offering words of justice that will be served to those that are responsible for the crisis or remarking on how the water is still not safe to drink, as some experts have stated, Obama instead repeated the words of Governor Rick Snyder and offered nothing new or reassuring to the conversation.
He even said that this crisis has left no time for politics and that people should not get caught up in pointing fingers when determining who is to blame.
If you’re not sure what went down in Flint, here’s a quick recap: under state management and in an effort to save money, the city began to draw its water from the Flint River in 2014. Though complaints were filed regarding a weird taste and smell, not to mention a rise in health problems, officials claimed the water was safe to drink and did no testing on it.
Finally, last September, doctors reported that the blood of the children’s residents contained high levels of lead. As it turns out, lead had begun leaching into the city’s drinking water once the city switched water sources.
Since the majority of Flint’s residents are living in poverty and are African-American, people began raising questions about whether the careless “mistake” in switching water sources to save money and the slow response to the crisis was driven by race and their poverty level.
When Air Force One landed on the tarmac in Flint on Wednesday, residents and activists tracking the water crisis hoped that Obama would bring news of justice, inequality in the handling of the situation, and support in the residents’ need to drink only bottled water.
However, just as Governor Rick Snyder, who many blame for the water crisis, has said over and over again, Obama told citizens that they must drink more of the filtered tap water if they are over 6 and not pregnant. He also reminded them that they need to be patient while the lead problem is fixed, which will take years.
Ari Adler, Snyder’s spokesperson, said of Obama’s speech,
“Having the president come to town to say many of the same things the governor has been saying was a big help in continuing a strong partnership for Flint. Government at all levels working together is what the people of Flint deserve and what the people of this country need to ensure their health, safety and overall well-being.”
Some activists, such as filmmaker Michael Moore, were not impressed by Obama’s remarks and called them “disappointing.”
Snyder was booed off the stage when he attempted to talk at Northwestern High School, but Obama said the same things and was embraced. It seems that the president’s presence is what is causing some to not realize that his comments are nothing new.
Obama did, however, urge parents to have their children checked for lead poisoning as a precaution but mentioned that adults that were children several generations ago were likely exposed to lead in their water as well and turned out fine.
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