Michigan Civil Rights Commission to Hold Public Hearing on Flint Water Crisis on Thursday, April 28Contact: Vicki Levengood 517-241-7978Agency: Civil Rights
April 6, 2016
Lansing, MI –The Michigan Civil Rights Commission (the Commission) today announced the first public hearing on claims of discrimination and racial bias in the Flint water crisis will be held on Thursday, April 28, 2:30 pm, at the Riverfront Banquet Center, 1 Riverfront Center West in Flint, Michigan.
Commission co-chairs Arthur Horwitz and Rasha Demashkieh will deliver opening remarks from 2:30 pm to 2:45 pm, followed immediately by public comment, with preference given to Flint residents.
The public comment period will be followed by a panel of representatives from various State of Michigan agencies. Invitations will be extended to the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Education, the Department of Talent and Economic Development, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, and others to appear.
Immediately following their presentation, Flint residents will be given the opportunity to respond to the testimony of the state agency panel.
Before the close of the hearing, Commissioners will deliberate on the day’s testimony as well as the roles of structural or systemic racism, environmental justice and other forms of racism that may have contributed to the crisis, and outline the Commission’s next steps. The hearing is scheduled to adjourn at approximately 8:15 pm.
Immediately prior to the hearing, the Commission will hold its regular quarterly meeting at 1 pm in the same location. The meeting will include a public comment period, restricted to topics unrelated to the Flint water crisis.
At their meeting in January, the Commission unanimously passed a resolution to conduct public hearings in order to examine allegations of discrimination involving residents of the city of Flint and their public water supply.
The resolution stated that the Commission will convene hearings “to accept and/or compel testimony to address the question of whether the civil rights of Flint residents have been violated or abridged as a result of actions resulting in the provision of unsafe water to Flint residents through the public water system.”
The Michigan Constitution established the Commission and proscribes its duty to investigate discrimination against any person because of religion, race, color or national origin in the enjoyment of the civil rights guaranteed by law and by the constitution, including Michigan’s Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act (ELCRA). ELCRA specifically prohibits discrimination based on religion, race, color, national origin, age, sex, height, weight, familial status, disability or marital status.
Under the constitution, the Michigan Civil Rights Commission has the power to hold hearings, administer oaths, require the attendance of witnesses and the submission of records, to take testimony, and to issue appropriate orders.
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