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    Jesse Jackson to Sputnik: Flint Water Crisis is a 'Crime Scene'

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    Civil rights leader Reverend Jesse Jackson, who recently visited Flint, Michigan, in the midst of a water crisis, said the city is a "crime scene."

    Criticism of the state and federal response has grown in recent days over the crisis in Flint, a financially strapped city of just under 100,000 residents about 60 miles northwest of Detroit.

    ​Jackson told Sputnik Radio's "Loud & Clear" that the water crisis is a result of political leaders' unwillingness to invest in infrastructure for the city.

    "This is criminal," Jackson said. "This is not a natural disaster. This is a man-made, political miscalculation."

    Flint was under control of a state-appointed emergency manager in 2014 when, in an effort to cut costs, it switched its source of tap water from Detroit's system to the nearby Flint River.

    Flint returned to using Detroit's water in October after tests found elevated levels of lead in the water and in the blood of children living in the area. Lead contamination can cause brain damage and other health problems.

    Corrosive water from the Flint River leached lead from the city pipes, leading to the contamination.

    Residents' complaints about the taste, odor and appearance of the water, which began immediately after the switch, were largely ignored by state officials.

    In October 2014, the General Motors plant in Flint refused to use the river water because it was rusting car parts. The city responded by arranging for the company to tap into a different water line. The residents of Flint, however, were still supplied with contaminated water.

    "If [the water] is too poisonous to be used in cars, what about stomachs, and throats and bodies," Jackson said.

    After learning that Flint's water was contaminated, state and city leaders did nothing, Jackson said, adding that the Department of Justice must hold someone accountable for the crisis. He called Flint a "crime scene with 100,000 victims" and said "somebody needs to go to jail."

    Michigan Governor Rick Snyder, a Republican, has apologized for the state's handling of the crisis amid growing calls in the last week for him to resign.

    On Tuesday, the Environmental Protection Agency said it was reviewing its handling of the city’s water crisis and acknowledged it did not respond fast enough.

    President Barack Obama on Saturday declared a federal emergency over the city’s water crisis. He met with Flint Mayor Karen Weaver on Tuesday to discuss the issues.

    Tags:
    lead, water, General Motors (GM), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Rick Snyder, Karen Weaver, Barack Obama, Jesse Jackson, Michigan, Flint, United States
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