“For [Moore] to step forward and say something good… this time I agree with him,” Dave McKellar, a member of the militia group, told the Detroit Free Press. “We’re trying to coordinate so the protests don’t stop.”
The militia called for others to rally with them on Sunday, writing: “we ask that you only wear side arms and not long rifles, this is not about our 2nd Amendment, this is about the infringement on the good people of Flint.”
Approximately 30 members of the Genesee County Volunteer Militia, some openly and legally carrying loaded firearms, gathered outside of the town’s city hall over the weekend.
“We’re here to defend this community," Matthew Krol, the militia's executive officer, told the crowd, as reported by the Detroit Free Press. “We’re not going to allow (the government) to step on the people of Flint any longer.”
“If it means having to take up arms in defense… we will do that as well,” he declared. It was not identified how armed weapons could assist in the clean-up, and whether anyone was actually under urgent threat.
The poisoning of Flint’s water began in April 2014, when the city stopped receiving its supply from Detroit, instead shifting to water from the Flint River, known to have a high corrosive salt content. Corrosive salts in the water damaged the pipes, which contain lead, causing that material to be released into the water, and contaminating it.
Many officials are accused of knowing about the contamination for months and doing nothing to stop it. Those consuming and using the water were exposed to high levels of lead.
A study conducted by scientists at Virginia Tech tested tap water in 271 Flint homes last summer and found some contained lead levels so high that they fell under the EPA's definition of "toxic waste."
Recent estimates say it may take up to 15 years and over $60 million to undo the damage caused to the water system.
An investigation has been launched by the Department of Justice to identify criminal wrongdoing at township, county, state and federal levels.