EXCLUSIVE: Flint Mayor Sends Administrator To Protest Camp
On Friday afternoon, Flint, MI, Mayor Karen Weaver sent City Administrator Sylvester Jones to Kearsley Park to tour Camp Promise, a water protectors camp formed over a month ago in response to the state and federal government’s inaction three years after the disastrous switch from the Detroit water system to the toxic Flint River.
The mayor sent food to the camp for protesters to eat, according to a source on the ground; there’s no word yet on whether she herself will go speak to concerned residents and tour the camp, which currently has nearly between 45 and 50 Flint, and non-Flint residents, living there full-time. Indigenous water protectors who fought against the Dakota Access Pipeline in Standing Rock have visited the camp to offer their guidance to Flint water protectors.
Protestors have feared the mayor and state would shut down the camp as the weather gets nicer and more water protectors come to join.
The gesture by the mayor comes as tensions in Flint have risen over the last few weeks—and toward Weaver.
On April 20, six residents were arrested during a town hall held at House of Prayer Missionary Baptist by Mayor Weaver, EPA officials, and representatives for Governor Snyder.
The residents were held overnight in jail, but TYT has learned there have been no formal charges filed over two weeks later.
Reporting from the town hall that night, an overaggressive tone was set from the moment the event began, as police commissioner Tim Johnson warned residents not to disrupt the meeting—or he would escort them out and “then you’re going to jail,” adding he “was not going to play with nobody tonight.”
Several arrested residents were removed from the church for, according to the police commissioner, serving as “agitators” at the town hall. In reality, they voiced their frustration loudly and clearly showed their anger, which didn’t sit well with the government employees answering the questions.
One arrested resident, Leah Palladeno, was handled so aggressively by police officer Kristopher Jones, bruises formed along her arm. Walking into the church, residents could see multiple police officers standing in the front and back donning multiple weapons.
Multiple residents expressed to me their distaste for the town hall being held in a church—where men had to remove their hats—and the intimidating feeling they walked into seeing armed police officers at a town hall filled with angry, poisoned citizens.
Mayor Weaver’s spokesperson told me the mayor was unaware of the arrests as they were happening.
Following the town hall, I spotted the mayor dining at the White Horse tavern with her husband, along with an advisor and a police officer (I saw him from behind and could not identify him)—meaning if Weaver was unaware of the arrests during the town hall, she was certainly aware directly after and found it important to speak with someone from the department.
Mayor Weaver’s office did not reply to my request for confirmation on whether it was police commissioner Johnson who was with her at the White Horse.
Despite repeated requests for comment from the mayor’s office and City of Flint Attorney’s Office, TYT Politics has not received an answer as to what police are investigating in relation to the six arrested, why charges have not been officially filed, and what the mayor thinks about the optics of lead-poisoned residents being arrested for voicing dissent at a town hall.
Mayor Weaver’s office did not respond to a request for comment regarding her sending food to the camp or whether she herself will be going down there in the coming weeks.