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Statement of Civil Rights Commission Chair on Flint Water Advisory Task Force

Statement of Arthur Horwitz, Co-chair of the Michigan Civil Rights Commission, in response to the final report of the Flint Water Advisory Task Force that was released on Wednesday, March 23.

“Today, in issuing its final report, the Flint Water Advisory Task Force stated unequivocally that environmental injustice and the lack of any meaningful involvement for citizens in government decisions played a significant role in what happened in Flint,” said Michigan Civil Rights Commission Co-chair Arthur Horwitz.  “The Commission’s upcoming hearings in Flint will further explore these, and additional issues, with the intent of securing insights and contributing recommendations that assure the civil rights of Flint residents – and those in any Michigan community – are recognized and protected.”

Under the state constitution, it is the duty of the Michigan Civil Rights Commission to investigate alleged discrimination against any person because of religion, race, color or national origin in the enjoyment of the civil rights guaranteed by law and to secure the equal protection of such civil rights without discrimination. Provisions in the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act and related acts expanded protections based on age, sex, height, weight, familial status, marital status or disability.  

In January, the Commission unanimously passed a resolution to conduct hearings into alleged discrimination involving residents of the city of Flint. The resolution states that at the hearings, the Commission will “…accept and/or compel testimony to address the question of whether the civil rights of Flint residents have been violated or abridged because of actions resulting in the provision of unsafe water to Flint residents through the public water system.”

The first Flint hearing is scheduled for Thursday, April 28.  The Michigan Department of Civil Rights will announce the exact time and location in the coming weeks.