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Michigan Civil Rights Commission to Hold Hearings on Alleged Discrimination in Flint Water Crisis

Contact: Vicki Levengood, 517-241-7978

January 25, 2016

Lansing, MI – At their meeting in Lansing today, the Michigan Civil Rights Commission (MCRC) unanimously passed a resolution to conduct hearings regarding alleged discrimination involving residents of the city of Flint and their public water supply.

“What is happening in Flint will have far-reaching consequences for the people who live and work there, many of whom are protected by state and national civil rights laws,” said Arthur Horwitz, co-chair of the MCRC. “We have an obligation under our constitutional mandate to investigate allegations of discrimination, including disparate treatment based on race, color, national origin or any other protected status.”

The resolution states that the Commission will “…convene a series of at least three (3) public 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 resolution calls on the Michigan Department of Civil Rights to provide resources necessary to conduct the hearings.  MCRC is expected to convene the first of the hearings within 30 days.

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, MCRC 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.

“People all over the country and indeed the world are concerned about the people of Flint, and many are working tirelessly to solve this crisis,” said Rasha Demashkieh, co-chair of the MCRC. “Everyone – those who are directly impacted as well all who are trying to help – deserve our best effort to find out if discrimination played any role.”

MCRC resolution to hold hearings on Flint water crisis