On Friday, Governor Rick Snyder suspended two state workers, citing that they may be to blame for the “water testing failures in the Flint contamination crisis” Reuters wrote.
The managers, who remain anonymous, work for the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and will have to go without pay for seven days as officials conduct an internal investigation to determine the severity of their neglect. From there, officials will decide whether or not they will fire the two individuals.
Snyder, who recently denied that race and class were factors in the neglect and pollution of the city’s water, stressed that the bulk of the blame should be placed on the DEQ.
“Some DEQ actions lacked common sense and that resulted in this terrible tragedy in Flint… I look forward to the results of the investigation to ensure these mistakes don’t happen again,” he wrote in a statement.
In addition, Snyder’s power over Flint’s water supply was given back to Flint’s Mayor Karen Weaver, a decision made by a state-appointed board.
“This is a positive step forward for the city of Flint. Mayor Weaver will now have the authority to appoint the city administrator and all department heads. Today’s action is the next step in transitioning to full, local control in Flint,” said Snyder, who has said he will not resign.
But how did injustice happen in the first place?
Back in April 2014, to save money, Snyder switched the water supply from the Detroit water system to the Flint River, a body of water known to have copious amounts of trash, pollution and iron. And despite residents complaining for the 18 months that something was “funny” about the water, officials assured them that everything was fine, offering them water filters to relieve their anxiety.
During this time, there have been numerous reports of hair loss and rashes, thousands exposed to dangerous toxins and a whopping 9,000 children diagnosed with lead poisoning. And while the water was switched back in October of 2015, Flint residents continue to stand up and speak out, most notably filing a class-action lawsuit against Gov. Snyder and the State of Michigan.
It’s important to note that Flint, which is located nearly 60 miles north of Detroit, is 57 percent African-American and 40 percent of its residents live below or at the poverty line.