UPDATE: New report issued on civil rights and the water emergency

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FLINT (WJRT) - (04/27/18) - It's been one year since we've seen a report outlining how race and other civil rights matters played a role in the Flint Water Emergency.

An updated report now says progress is being made but there's still a long way to go.

According to the Michigan Civil Rights Commission, many of the recommendations they made in that first report require help from outside the scope of what they can do alone.

In the update, the commission also acknowledges that some of the goals are "more aspirational rather than practical."

After three hearings on the water emergency in the summer of 2016, MCRC released a report with seven recommendations to address race in the face of the crisis in February 2017.

"I would say we've made some progress but there are some things that are more long-term," said the commission's director Augustin Arbulu.

Arbulu addressed these issues in front of Flint City Council and the community once the report was released. One of the recommendations was to listen better to underserved communities. One way the commission has managed to do that is to place investigators in black, Latino and Arab communities to handle complaints.

"We're doing that proactively in Flint where once a month, for example, we have an investigator that's assigned to the NAACP's offices in Flint the first Thursday of every month between 10 and 2, and people can walk in there and file a complaint," Arbulu said. "We know that there is a large Hispanic community. We also have one at the Hispanic Tech Center off of Lewis Street in Flint."

He says other recommendations like providing environmental justice, replacing the emergency manager law, rebuilding trust or understanding bias and acknowledging racism have been harder to achieve.

"I think we need a much more vigorous....and training and ongoing education around implicit bias and structural racism. How do we narrow those disconnects that exist? And I think that's one of the roles that the Civil Rights Commission and the Department of Civil Rights exist," Arbulu said.

Following the 130 page report last February, the 23 page update can be accessed here.

ABC12 reached out to the governor and some Flint elected officials for their thoughts.

Senator Jim Ananich says a lot of the commission's recommendations are common sense and things he's proposed, specifically relating to environmental justice and reforming the emergency management law.



 
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