Civil rights department investigating if race played role in wat - WNEM TV 5

Civil rights department investigating if race played role in water crisis

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(Source: WNEM) (Source: WNEM)

Since the Flint water crisis began more than two years ago there has been more questions than answers as to how to solve it.

One state panel is looking at how racism and segregation may have played a role in the catastrophe.

"We have to have a rich understanding of the history of why are we here today? What is it in our historical past that brought us to where we are today," said Dr. Agustin Arbulu, executive director of the Michigan Department of Civil Rights.

The Michigan Department of Civil Rights is looking to that history as it investigates how the devastating water crisis could have happened and how to keep it from happening again.

"It really relates to where communities have been segregated by virtue of race and ethnicity that creates a history, a foundation that continues to some degree through today," Arbulu said.

The department held community conversations across the city in 2016 to gather more information from Flint residents on the role race might have played.

"A lot of times people have a feeling that we talk about race too much. I don't think we talk about race enough," Arbulu said.

The department's final report on the water crisis will be ready Feb. 17 and the public is invited to attend.

Arbulu said he hopes the conversations that will come out of the report will foster solutions that go well beyond the water crisis.

"Everything is interconnected, housing is interconnected to water, to education to employment to health. And so we want to say this is not just looking at a certain period of time," Arbulu said.

The report intends to look at the crisis through a wider lens of Flint's role in Genesee County, in Michigan and in the United States.

"That's what the report will strive to do to encourage people to have honest and constructive dialogue that makes people very uncomfortable from all sides of life," Arbulu said.

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