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Coalition calls on the DNC to focus on racial and environmental justice in March 6 Flint Democratic presidential debate

Posted Mar. 2, 2016 / Posted by: Kate Colwell

WASHINGTON, D.C. — A broad coalition of environmental and racial justice groups call upon the Democratic National Committee to focus the March 6 debate solely on racial and environmental injustice -- and will be delivering more than 80,000 petition signatures to the DNC in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday, March 2 at 11:30 a.m.

The water crisis in Flint has captured the conscience of the world. Everything about it -- callous bureaucrats, so-called cost-cutting measures, disregard of science -- shows the institutionalized, systemic racism faced by low-wealth communities of color nationwide. Groups calling on the DNC to focus the debate on justice for Flint applaud the move to hold the debate there as a good first step, but want the presidential campaigns to do more than fly in for a day. What does each candidate intend to do about systemic racism, economic injustice, aging infrastructure in an era of budget cuts, criminal justice reform, and more? The people of Flint deserve more than to be a backdrop to a debate. They, and the nation, need answers.

What: 85,000 signatures delivered to DNC

When: Wednesday, March 2 at 11:30 a.m. EST

Where: DNC Headquarters, 430 S. Capitol St SE. Washington, D.C., 20003

Visuals: boxes and determined activists

Hashtags: #JusticeForFlint, #FlintDebate

“The water crisis in Flint has brought into stark relief an interconnected set of problems, including racism, environmental degradation and market fundamentalism, which undermines government and fails to provide for the common good. As a society we must pull together to tackle these problems, and voters deserve a robust debate on these issues in Flint.”

-Michelle Chan, Vice President of Programs, Friends of the Earth

“Flint’s water crisis is just one example of the callous disregard shown to people of color, black and Native people when it comes to our safety and health. The next president will be tasked with not just deploying emergency assistance once a crisis is made known but actually addressing systemic environmental racism head-on. As a significant portion of the Democratic base, people of color, black and Native people demand to know how the leaders of the party plan to address racial, environmental, and climate justice."

–Monique Teal, Campaign Director, Daily Kos

“Flint is not the poster child for environmental racism, it's a snapshot of similar situations happening coast to coast -- from the Bronx, NY, to Cancer Alley in Louisiana, to Los Angeles and Richmond, CA and Tribal Lands in between. From toxic water, to toxic air, low-wealth communities of color have been disproportionately impacted for decades. As in Flint, it is no coincidence that frontline communities of color are also home to vast income inequality, elevated unemployment levels, reduced educational opportunities, mass incarceration and police brutality. This is the story, and it's been going on in our country for too long. If DNC claims to represent ALL voters, it can no longer take people of color for granted. The DNC must show it cares as much for Black and Brown issues as it does for Black and Brown votes. No more eco-tourists passing out bottled water for a day -- we demand a real debate on the challenges of racial justice, environmental racism, solutions for climate justice and a just transition from a fossil fuel economy.”

–Anthony Rogers-Wright, Policy/Organizing Director, Environmental Action

“All over the country Black communities are being sacrificed- having their access to health care, education, and even water deliberately disrupted. The poisoning of Flint epitomizes a larger national crisis of people of color being physically endangered and politically ostracized. We need to hear real plans for how to safeguard the people of Flint and other communities in peril from anyone who wants our vote. The Democratic Party has an opportunity to use their platform to elevate this necessary conversation, putting the voices of those most impacted front and center and hopefully building greater momentum for change.”

–Rashad Robinson, Executive Director, Color Of Change

“The situation in Flint, Michigan is not unique. Communities of color, rural and urban alike, often bear the brunt of extractive industry, appalling infrastructure, and living conditions that would be unacceptable were it any other demographic. In Native America, we’ve seen the “out of sight, out of mind” mentality affect our people. While we fight against the contamination of our resources and homelands, for lives of our children, mainstream society remains largely unaware. The federal government has a duty to tribal nations, our treaty rights are guaranteed by law. This includes clean drinking water and clean air to breathe. I hope the Democratic Party recognizes all communities, all voices, and all votes matter.” 

–Tara Houska, National Campaigns Director, Honor the Earth

Members of the coalition:

18 Million Rising

350.org

Climate Hawks Vote

Climate Parents

ClimateTruth.org

Color of Change

Courage Campaign

Daily Kos

Democracy for America

Environmental Action

Food & Water Action Fund

Friends of the Earth

Greenpeace

Honor the Earth

Indigenous Environmental Network

People For the American Way

Presente.org

The Other 98%

For more information, visit the rally Facebook event page.

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Coalition contact: Anthony Rogers-Wright, Environmental Action, (631) 402-7855, anthony@environmental-action.org

Friends of the Earth on-site contact: Jenny Bock, (646) 258-6998, jbock@foe.org

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