Former Michigan Governor Rick Snyder and eight others have been charged for their role in the water crisis that devastated the city of Flint.
According to The Detroit Free Press, Snyder was the governor of Flint at the time of the 2014 water scandal. He has been charged with two counts of willful neglect of duty. On Thursday morning (Jan. 14), he pleaded not guilty to the charges. Snyder was ordered not to leave the state before his next court date on Tuesday (Jan. 19). If convicted, he faces up to a year in prison and a $1,000 fine. His bond has been set at $10,000 for each charge.
Under Snyder’s administration, the city switched from Detroit’s water system to the Flint River. The untreated water caused lead contamination and pipe corrosion. Experts say the contaminated water caused an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease — an intense form of pneumonia caused by bacteria that grows in warm water. The outbreak killed 12 people.
Snyder’s attorney said the charges were “wholly without merit” and that they were “confident” he would be “fully exonerated if this flimsy case goes to trial.”
“The Flint water crisis is not some relic of the past,” Michigan Solicitor General Fadwa Hammoud said. “At this very moment the people of Flint continue to suffer from the categorical failure of public officials at all levels of government who trampled upon their trust and evaded accountability for far too long.”
Residents of Flint, a predominantly Black city, are still struggling to recover from the water scandal. For years, they relied on bottled water as their primary source for clean water. Hundreds of children suffered from some level of lead poisoning.
Last August, REVOLT reported that Flint residents were awarded a $600 million settlement for the water crisis. The settlement will reportedly pay off multiple legal claims from residents over lead poisoning and the Legionnaires’ disease outbreak that occurred during the city’s water emergency.