Today (June 13), dozens of residents from Flint, Michigan, headed to their elected officials’ offices in Lansing, Michigan. Why? To deliver a message in a bottle. Or, actually, 1,145 bottles.
They delivered 1,145 “You Owe Me” letters in empty water bottles to tell Gov. Rick Snyder and Attorney General Bill Schuette how the city’s water crisis has impacted them—and continues to three years later. Some of these stories include hospital bills, while others speak of the daily fears associated with showers or dishwashing, reports The Detroit Metro Times.
“Each letter is handwritten, some of them are heartbreaking with loss: Little kids asking for their parents back, asking for their grandparents back; furious business owners that lost their business,” said Melissa Mays, a resident who has been active in seeking justice for the crisis, to ABC12.
Participants began the action with a press conference this morning and then proceeded to head to the offices of Snyder and Schuette. Snyder himself didn’t receive the water bottles, but he did send two members of his communications team to retrieve them.
Schuette, on the other hand, came out to meet city residents who gave him copies of the letters (since the originals were with Snyder’s office). “I understand why you’d be angry and frustrated and upset,” he said, in this video posted to the Facebook of Flint Rising, a coalition to come out of the crisis, “and I appreciate that you’re here today, and I just wanted to come to tell you thank you.”
He then posted this to Twitter:
Flint is never far from my mind, and today I had the opportunity to talk with JC about what his life is like. pic.twitter.com/qaw7OHVv1z— A.G. Bill Schuette (@SchuetteOnDuty) June 13, 2017
The attorney general is behind a series of lawsuits related to the Flint water crisis, including a civil one filed against private engineering services corporation Lockwood, Andrews & Newman in August 2016 and criminal charges against state officials. Still, as residents and activists were stated in the above linked video, Schuette must also defend the state in his role as state attorney general against the several class lawsuits residents have filed against government officials.
Watch this video below to hear what today’s participants have to say about how, as Mays put it, Schuette can “play both sides.”