Flint City Hall Break-In Amid Poisoned Water Crisis Raises Suspicions

Flint City Hall Break-In Amid Poisoned Water Crisis Raises Suspicions © AP Photo/ Paul Sancya

21:04 21.03.2016Get short URL

Flint’s police chief has announced that an unsolved break-in at the government office where files on the city’s poisoned water crisis were being stored — just days before Michigan Governor Rick Snyder declared a State of Emergency — was “definitely an inside job.”

The police still have no suspects, and officials have only confirmed a television as having been stolen — the thief, however, did not take the power cord for the television. On Friday, Flint Mayor Karen Weaver stated that since documents were scattered throughout the office, it is impossible to know which documents were stolen, if any.

“Well sure [it’s suspicious] when they go into a room where all the water files were and they take a TV, but not the cord to make it work, yes,” she told the Flint Journal.

The break-in was discovered by a City Hall employee after noticing a broken window. Surveillance footage of the incident shows a burglar leaving with a TV. No other rooms were broken into.

“It was definitely an inside job. The power cord [to the TV] wasn’t even taken. The average drug user knows that you’d need the power cord to be able to pawn it,” Flint’s new police chief, Tim Johnson, said. “It was somebody that had knowledge of those documents that really wanted to keep them out of the right hands, out of the hands of someone who was going to tell the real story of what’s going on with Flint water.”

The announcement that the breach was “definitely” an inside job comes as the FBI has joined the US Postal Inspection Service, the US Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of the Inspector General, and the EPA’s Criminal Investigation Division, in the wide-ranging criminal probe of the Flint water crisis, and the potential of charges for city and state officials.

The poisoning of Flint’s water began in April 2014, when the city stopped receiving its supply from Detroit, instead shifting to water taken directly from the Flint River, a source known to have a high corrosive salt content. Corrosive salts in the water damaged the pipes, which contain lead, causing that material to be released into the water, and contaminating it.

In October, the state changed the city’s drinking water source back from the polluted Flint River to the Detroit water system, but warned that the water remains unsafe to drink. Governor Snyder has resisted growing calls for his resignation over the scandal.

Lawsuits against the state and the governor allege violations of the Safe Drinking Water Act, a federal law which protects the public drinking water supply. Snyder has pointed fingers at the EPA, who in turn have pointed them back at state officials, saying that they did not act quickly enough.

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