Shortly before President Barack Obama addressed roughly 1,000 residents of Flint, Michigan, the Republican Gov. Rick Snyder of Michigan took to the stage to formally apologize for the city’s water crisis. He was loudly booed during his remarks (video below).
On May 4, President Obama arrived in Flint to consult with local lawmakers regarding the state and federal response to the lead water crisis.
After the city’s water supply switched from Lake Huron to the Flint River in 2014, the untreated water leached the lead from outdated pipes, poisoning the residents of Flint. A state of emergency was declared in January.
President Obama was scheduled to speak to a large group at the Flint High School. To the surprise of attendees, Gov. Snyder appeared on stage before the president, the Detroit Free Press reports.
“I understand why you’re frustrated and angry,” Snyder told the crowd, being met with jeers and angry boos. "I want to come here today to apologize, to say I'm sorry and I will fix it."
Snyder continuedYou didn’t create this problem. Government failed you."
The governor’s administration has shouldered much of the blame for the man-made disaster. A plurality of Flint residents have demanded his resignation.
Flint resident Arthur McGee said “I think that he should be booed. I think he should be impeached and thrown out of office.”
Claudia Perkins-Milton, another Flint resident, expressed skepticism towards Snyder’s assertion that he had been unaware of the looming water contamination.
“He’s not going to tell me he didn’t know about the water,” Perkins-Milton said.
When President Obama took to the stage, he told the crowd he did not believe that Michigan lawmakers intentionally tried to harm them, but that the crisis was created by the “corrosive attitude” of small government, according to NBC News.
“It’s a mindset that says environmental rules designed to keep your water clean or your air clean are options, or not that important, or will unnecessarily burden businesses or taxpayers,” Obama said.
On May 5, Gov. Snyder appeared on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” to discuss the water crisis and the Flint crowd’s angry reception of his apology.
“I appreciate people being angry and frustrated by the situation,” Snyder said. “It’s a difficult one. This is a tragic situation that we need to address, and we’re on top of it in terms of moving forwards. And it’s going to take some time to heal, though, because of… the trust issue.”