As a cost-cutting measure, Flint officials switch the poor and predominantly Black city’s water source from the Detroit Water Plant to the Flint River in April of 2014. The city’s water pipes are not properly treated, and toxic levels of lead and other contaminants are introduced into residents’ drinking water.
Children and adults’ exposure to lead poisoning manifests in irreversible health effects, including cancer and Legionnaires’ disease. In January of 2016, Governor Rick Snyder declares a state of emergency in Flint—three whole months after being informed of the high lead levels.
Governor Snyder oversaw Michigan’s Department of Health & Human Services, its Department of Environmental Quality and Flint’s Emergency Manager, and covered up his administration’s criminal actions.
In July of 2016, Attorney General Bill Schuette announced criminal charges against six state employees for their roles in the Flint water crisis. Governor Rick Snyder was not charged. Today, Flint still doesn’t have clean drinking water.
17-year-old Laquan McDonald is murdered by Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke on October 20, 2014. His death is ruled a “justifiable homicide” by the Chicago Police Department.
After over a year, a judge orders that dash cam footage from the incident be released. The footage reveals Officer Van Dyke shot McDonald 16 times in 15 seconds, even after McDonald had lain on the ground. It is also revealed that local officials, including Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez, were aware of the shooting footage. Now that the tape is public, Alvarez moves to charge Van Dyke with murder.
The offices of Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez were aware of and sought to cover up the shooting footage before it became public. Using social media, direct action and other tactics, Chicago organizers launched the #ByeAnita campaign in February 2016 to encourage voters to oust Anita Alvarez. She subsequently lost her re-election campaign in March 2016 to Kim Foxx.
In Spring 2010, frustrated with poor representation in local government, twelve Black residents of Quitman, Georgia endeavor to turn out the votes of Black folks who had historically stayed home from the polls. Their efforts win two Brooks County Board of Education seats and one County Commissioner seat for Black candidates.
A local DA compels the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to launch a probe. Ten of the twelve organizers are arrested—three of them are indicted. Despite a staggering lack of evidence of fraud or coercion, Georgia Governor Nathan Deal signs an executive order to remove the three Black elected members from their seats in October of 2012.
Governor Deal removed the three Black board members by executive order. While the Quitman organizers were being prosecuted, organizations like the New Georgia Project registered and engaged the increasingly diverse and young electorate in the state. This surge in participation transformed Georgia into a politically competitive state and resulted in the election of the first openly-queer Black woman to its House of Representatives.
#WeBuiltThis nation with our labor, our sweat and our blood.
Pledge to use the electoral process to push for accountability at the state and local level.