Every Human Has a Right to Health and a Healthy Planet (Audio Photo Essay)

June 5, 2018
20 photos
  • The Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival, leads hundreds of poor people, clergy and advocates in protest at the Michigan Capitol to highlight the state’s ongoing water crisis. They then block entrances to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality. <small>(Michael Nigro / Truthdig)</small>

  • Prior to the action, the Rev. Liz Theoharis, the Poor People’s Campaign co-chair, participates in direct-action training, required for all activists who risk arrest by participating in nonviolent civil disobedience. <small>(Michael Nigro / Truthdig)</small>

  • The goal of the Poor People’s Campaign is to build a “peaceful army to wage a revolution of values.” It is the same goal Martin Luther King had 50 years ago. <small>(Michael Nigro / Truthdig)</small>

  • Thousands have been arrested for acts of nonviolent civil disobedience since the campaign began. Here, an activist chants, “Whose Water? Our Water!” during the pre-march training and luncheon. <small>(Michael Nigro / Truthdig)</small>

  • Groups from all over Michigan gather on the steps of the Capitol. <small>(Michael Nigro / Truthdig)</small>

  • Nakia Wakes, from Flint, Mich., tells how she was twice pregnant with twins and lost both pregnancies from drinking the toxic water. According to activists, General Motors in Flint got clean water “almost immediately” once it discovered that the corrosive water was ruining car and factory parts. Four years after the scandal came to light, Flint residents still do not have clean water. <small>(Michael Nigro / Truthdig)</small>

  • The huddle before the action. <small>(Michael Nigro / Truthdig)</small>

  • Participants pray for the 50 people who are about to risk arrest. <small>(Michael Nigro / Truthdig)</small>

  • An activist carries an “UNWANTED” poster, a reference to Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, who two weeks ago proclaimed the Flint water crisis  over. It’s not. <small>(Michael Nigro / Truthdig)</small>

  • A character representing Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, wearing prison stripes, prepares to “go on trial” in a street theater performance. The people of Flint, portrayed by children in the street play, found Snyder guilty for his role in the poisoning of Flint’s water. <small>(Michael Nigro / Truthdig)</small>

  • Approximately 450 people march to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality. <small>(Michael Nigro / Truthdig)</small>

  • A half-mile of caution tape. <small>(Michael Nigro / Truthdig)</small>

  • For more than an hour, activists block all four exits at the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality and refuse to let anyone out. <small>(Michael Nigro / Truthdig)</small>

  • A police contingent followed the march and the protest on bicycles all day. <small>(Michael Nigro / Truthdig)</small>

  • A woman pushes her way out of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality and attempts to cut the protesters’ caution tape tape with a pair of scissors. <small>(Michael Nigro / Truthdig)</small>

  • After attempting to get into the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, a man who said he had papers to deliver asks a law enforcement officer how to enter the building. <small>(Michael Nigro / Truthdig)</small>

  • Many employees at the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality find their way out through the underground parking garage. Later, activists sit in the driveway and block all cars coming out. Twenty-nine people are arrested. <small>(Michael Nigro / Truthdig)</small>

  • According to the Rev. Liz Theoharis, “There are 9 million deaths each year [associated] with pollution. Those that are experiencing the worst of all these problems are poor people, indigenous people, people of color.” <small>(Michael Nigro / Truthdig)</small>

  • According to Philip Alston, U.N. Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights and author of a new U.N. report, “The United States has among the worst levels of inequality, poverty and infant mortality of all wealthy nations.” <small>(Michael Nigro / Truthdig)</small>

  • According to a U.N. report, “In a rich country like the United States, the persistence of extreme poverty is a political choice made by those in power. … [Donald] Trump and the GOP-controlled Congress are ‘deliberately’ working to make these already devastating crises worse by waging war on the poor while lavishing the rich with massive tax cuts.” <small>(Michael Nigro / Truthdig)</small>