“Circle on a bullet wound:” Flint locals seethe of over $ 626 million in water settlements – Mother Jones

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Randall Hopskon, Jr., left, and Bennie Thornton stock bottled water in the basement of St. Mark’s Baptist Church in Flint, Michigan, February 23, 2016.Tom Williams / AP

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This story was originally published by Guardian and is reproduced here as part of the Climate desk cooperation.

Strongly conflicting reactions hailed a federal judge’s award of $ 626 million in compensation for residents affected by the lead water crisis that engulfed the city of Flint, Michigan, more than six years ago.

While some residents and officials welcomed the payment resulting from the crisis lawsuits, that was particularly harmful for many of the town’s children, others were dismayed at a result they considered wholly inadequate. “It is still a band-aid on a bullet wound for our city that is still dealing with the residual effects of the water crisis,” LuLu Brezzell told local news. MLive website. Flint’s resident is the mother of Amariyanna “Mari” Copeny, the youth activist also known as Little Miss Flint.

District Judge Judith Levy announced the settlement on Tuesday, calling it a “remarkable achievement” that “establishes a comprehensive compensation schedule and consistent timing for each eligible participant.”

However, some residents of Flint who took sides against the deal before its approval I am bitterly disappointed at the small amount of money many community members will receive and the lack of legal accountability for those behind the crisis.

In 2014, state officials moved the source of Flint’s water supply from Lake Huron to a polluted local river as a money-saving exercise. City and state officials have repeatedly stated that the water was safe even though the switch immediately triggered widespread reports of illness and sparked protests.

The Flint River flows through the city but was not used for public consumption since the early 1960s due to industrial pollution. Flint, 70 miles northwest of Detroit, was best known before the lead contamination scandal as one of General Motors’ regional manufacturing bases.

After the water supply was cut off, many residents and those who worked in Flint reported that the water that came out of their taps was yellowish, cloudy, and smelling. People have reported suddenly breaking out in rashes or losing their hair. Critics condemned a “man-made disaster“And he called the water”toxic soup.

The authorities refused to go back to the supply of the lake more secure until October 2015, shortly after new tests revealed alarming levels of lead in the blood of the city’s youngest children who are particularly vulnerable to damage to their early mental development from such poisoning.

More than half of Flint’s 81,000 residents have signed up for a share in the newly announced deal. A proposal for $ 200 million on the $ 626 million agreement was also made to go to the attorneys involved in the case, but Levy did not comment on that motion on Wednesday.

Former Flint Mayor Karen Weaver called the settlement a “slap in the face” for many residents still suffering from the water crisis. “This was not justice for the people of Flint Town,” Weaver said ABC 12, a local news affiliate. “The amount in this settlement does not reflect the value of the lives that have been lost and the lives that have been damaged.”

Claire McClinton, a Flint resident activist, also opposed the settlement, saying the residents were … “Bass”.

“Pain and suffering – physical, emotional and financial suffering – this deal doesn’t meet the mark, period,” McClinton said. to MLive.

There had been previous expectations that a class action lawsuit could result in settlement of at least $ 1 billion.

Residents were also unhappy with the payment structure. The money will be distributed on a formula that gives more to younger applicants and to those who can prove a major injury. Flint City Councilman Eric Mays said payment parameters, including a $ 1,000 settlement cap for adults, would limit the amount of compensation for many eligible recipients, and said the average person who had signed up “doesn’t know what to expect”.

In July, resident Daniel Fletcher said citizens they were “legally robbed” and added: “This will go down in history as one of the biggest thefts from innocent and defenseless people by the same lawyers who came here to help us.”

Amidst such anger, other residents saw the settlement as a minimal first step and perhaps a precedent for the future. “Even if it’s not enough to change everyone’s life … at least it will be something in our hands that says it’s not okay to poison people”, She said Melissa Mays, a resident and activist who plans to use the liquidation money to pay for tutors and medical bills for her three children.

“We stopped people from getting away with it. Send a message to other governments that are trying to cut corners… You could also put public health first and treat people properly right from the start, ”he added.

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