After enduring the contaminated water crisis and being hit hard by the Covid-19 epidemic, voters in Flint, a predominantly black city in Michigan (in the northern United States), have reason to beware of politicians.
The city has a long tradition of activism: this is where the great strike with occupation at General Motors started in the late 1930s; and recently, Flint took to the streets with the “Black Lives Matter” movement against police brutality.
But the question facing the presidential election is whether more black voters in Flint will vote on November 3 than four years ago, when their low numbers helped Donald Trump narrowly win. in this state which had yet voted twice for Barack Obama before.
“Anything is better than the Trump administration when it comes to health,” said Kent Key, a researcher at Michigan State University specializing in the study of racial disparities.
The man has lost eight family members to the coronavirus.
Kent Key also denounces Donald Trump’s refusal to condemn white supremacists and extremists, such as those accused of plotting to kidnap Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat.
“This administration has given a lot of fuel to many extremist groups,” he said. “I had never known racism as I see it now, direct, without subtlety. Right in the face.”
– White bulletin –
But while the rejection of the Trump administration is clear, Democratic candidate Joe Biden is also raising questions about his record. His promotion of a 1994 Senate law that provided for long prison terms for drug-related but non-violent crimes has not been forgotten.
Joe Biden has pledged to reform the prison system but some remain skeptical.
“I’m not sure they’re giving black people what they owe,” said of the two candidates, JoJo Freeman, an activist who might put a blank ballot in the ballot box.
“I don’t see any response from either of them,” she adds.
In Flint, things are complicated by the lingering mistrust of the authorities after the contaminated water crisis in 2014. The city had decided to change the drinking water supply to draw from the Flint River through corroded lead pipes.
This decision, canceled a year later, had been taken by temporary managers with the green light from Republican Governor Rick Snyder, who intended to run the city like a business.
– “Apathy” –
His administration initially discredited complaints from sick residents before acknowledging the problem when tests, conducted by activists and local doctors, showed dangerous levels of lead exposure.
Even today, there are many who do not trust water. “Our government lied to us,” says activist Claire McClinton, who draws parallels between Governor Snyder’s attitude and Donald Trump’s towards the coronavirus.
“We were told + In Flint, the water is good +”. “With the Covid, we are told: + it’s not serious. It’s a hoax +”.
Claire McClinton backed Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primary but urges her friends to vote for Joe Biden.
In 2016, Hillary Clinton won over Flint by a large lead, but garnered about 8,000 votes less than Barack Obama in 2012, amid lower overall turnout.
“The apathy among the voters is very, very strong,” said Pastor Chris Martin, who heads the “Go-and-Go-Vote” initiative in Flint. “We are making good progress, but not enough. And we do not look at the polls, because the last time, we were caught off guard,” he adds.
DeWaun Robinson, president of the local chapter of “Black Lives Matter” (black lives matter), says young voters are mixed about the election. Some are motivated by the Democratic candidate and others more skeptical despite the promises of Joe Biden and his running mate Kamala Harris to enact a reform of sentences.