A self-styled “militia” — one that shares similar ideas with the armed occupation of a wildlife refuge in Oregon — is now joining in Flint, Michigan’s recovery effort after a public health disaster involving the city’s water supply.
The group, which calls itself the Genesee County Volunteer Militia and consists of members from states around the Midwest, is passing out bottled water and filters and is railing on government big and small for its role in the crisis.
“I can speak for every patriot that’s standing here today that we’re here in defence and support of this community to say enough is enough,” Matt Krol, an executive officer in the militia group, said, per MLive.com. “We’re not going to allow the government, be it the small, local government or the big government to step on the people of Flint any longer. Someone needs to be held accountable.”
He added: “If it means having to take up arms in defence … we will do that as well,” the Detroit Free Press reported.
About 30 militia members decked out in camouflage gear and waving “Don’t Tread on Me” flags were gathered outside Flint City Hall on Sunday demanding government accountability.
The group’s Facebook page shows support for the armed occupation in Oregon and is pro-gun. Some people present at the Sunday protest were openly carrying pistols, per the Free Press.
“This is not a racial issue, unlike some people last week tried to say,” Krol said. “It’s a human issue.”
Chants of “They knew!” and “Unacceptable!” rang out in the crowd.
Another leader of the group, Dave McKellar, said his militia members have been delivering water door-to-door with the American Red Cross over the past week, and an additional 50 members would have been at the rally if he hadn’t told them to spend their time distributing water.
“This is about broken trust. We trusted them to give our voice credence, to step forward and to speak for us and this is what we got for it. This isn’t about a colour issue,” he said, per MLive. “The only colour involved is green.”
Flint’s water supply first became contaminated in April 2014, when the city was controlled by a state-appointed emergency manager, per the Free Press. Months of warnings from residents about the lead-infused water went mostly ignored by state and local officials. A recent release of emails by Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R) showed that his office was aware of complaints from residents from the moment the water source was switched, roughly a year and a half before the state took major actions last October.
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