Civil rights officials in Michigan are blaming what they call “systemic racism” for decisions that left the city of Flint’s water supply contaminated with lead.
The officials allege the racial discrimination dates back decades.
A report by the Michigan Civil Rights Commission finds that state officials did not intend to poison Flint’s water supply when they switched the city to using its river as a water source without properly treating pipes to prevent them from corroding.
But the Commission says a history of racism against black residents in Flint created a climate where their concerns over the water were downplayed or simply ignored by the state.
The report argues that state officials would have acted differently if the situation involved more affluent cities with majority white populations.
Commissioners say current Michigan civil rights law does not appear strong enough to adequately address the kind of embedded racism they claim is at the core of the water crisis in Flint.