Yesterday, on the same day that Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette announced serious criminal charges against five current and former officials for their alleged role in the Flint water crisis, 9-year-old Flint resident Amariyanna “Mari” Copeny—known to the world as Little Miss Flint—got a rash on her arm from taking a long shower.
“The water is still bad,” Copeny told me on the phone. “It still smells like chemicals, and I still get rashes. It’s still a lot, and bad, and worse.”
It’s been 1,147 days since Flint switched its water source from Detroit to the Flint River. Residents, including Copeny’s family, noticed a difference almost immediately. Tests would ultimately reveal that E.coli, total coliform bacteria, and lead were all in the water.
Copeny’s family still uses bottled water for everything except showers, where they have a two-minute limit to prevent rashes like the one she got on Wednesday.
Schuette announced that five officials are being charged with involuntary manslaughter for actions—or, in other cases, lack of action—that resulted in the crisis, and the death of at least one person, 85-year-old Robert Skidmore. (The defendants have denied the charges.)
“They’re finally charging people...for the Legionnaires’,” Copeny said, explaining Wednesday’s news to me. “[Legionnaires’] is a really bad cold in your lungs.”
But she said the new charges aren’t enough. “More people need to be charged,” she told me, “’cause more people were responsible.” She named Michigan Governor Rick Snyder in particular.
Asked what should happen to the people charged Wednesday, Little Miss Flint said she thinks “they should go to jail.”
“And they need to fix the pipes,” she said. “The state, the governor, the ones who caused it.”
Even though it’s Copeny’s break from school, she’s not slowing down her activism. Later this summer, she will speak at the United Nations Girl Up Leadership Conference in Washington, D.C. She said she keeps fighting for her hometown because “Flint is a great place.”
“Don’t let us be forgotten,” she said. “FIX THE PIPES!”