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Loyola College of Law Ignites Effort to Bring Federal Aid to Ongoing Flint Water Crisis

Loyola press release - February 9, 2017

Students at Loyola University New Orleans College of Law are leading a national effort urging Michigan lawmakers to revive federal legislation to expedite Flint Michigan’s recovery in the wake of an unprecedented humanitarian crisis. These students are enrolled in the College of Law’s Human Rights Advocacy Project, a class that gives students hands-on experience in advocacy on behalf of victims of international human rights violations. Led by experienced human rights lawyer Professor Jeanne Woods, the class is currently focusing on our nation’s own human rights crisis in Flint, Michigan.

Flint came to the center of national attention in 2014 when a government-ordered switch in the town’s water supply caused over 100,000 residents to be poisoned by lead and bacteria-contaminated water. Residents have since been inflicted with seizures, cirrhosis of the liver, hair loss, and a handful of rare waterborne diseases. Among those affected are at least 12,000 children who will face lifelong health problems from the irreversible effects of lead poisoning. Meanwhile, over a dozen state and local officials have been criminally charged for their roles in the crisis.

Students in the class visited Flint in November 2016 and were shocked by ongoing issues that Flint’s residents continue to face. Meeting with survivors of the water crisis, Professor Woods was incredulous at both the scale of the injuries suffered by residents and the lax attitude of government officials.

“This should not be happening in the United States of America, the richest country in the world!” she said. Woods resolved to redouble her efforts to assist the residents.

Students wrote letters to Representative Dan Kildee (D-Mich.), urging him to introduce legislation providing much needed federal aid to support Flint’s recovery. Although Congress recently passed a $170 million appropriation to assist Flint, this measure falls far short of the $1.5 billion that experts estimate is necessary to replace the town’s lead-contaminated pipes. Congress has also yet to address providing support and compensation for Flint’s children and families devastated by lead poisoning.

The class plans to submit a Petition to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights on behalf of Flint residents. It is also organizing a “Fight for Flint” Coalition—a national alliance of nonprofit organizations and interest groups advocating for a reasonable governmental response to this government-created crisis.

To view the student written letters to Representative Kildee click here and here.