Page |

To the Scientific and Engineering Communities:                                                 May 10, 2018

Residents of Flint request you tell us where we can file a formal complaint against the behavior, since January 2016, of Professor Marc Edwards of Virginia Tech. We also request that you send representatives to Flint as soon as possible for a meeting with us to hear directly from us about our experiences with Mr. Edwards and our call for an investigation into Mr. Edwards’ conduct and the harm his actions have caused.

We highlight some of our concerns below:

1. Violation of Principle #3 of the Jemez Principles for Democratic Organizing: "Let People Speak for Themselves" (https://www.ejnet.org/ej/jemez.pdf): In March 2018, Mr. Edwards filed a formal complaint against Professor Shawn McElmurry and FACHEP (Flint Area Community Health and Environment Partnership). This complaint does nothing to help the residents of Flint move toward recovery in the Water Crisis. In fact, it has caused more strife, stress and drama that we do not need, want or deserve. Amazingly, Mr. Edwards presented his grievances against Mr. McElmurry as being the grievances of Michigan residents (see his March 29, 2018 blog post “The Flint Area Community Health and Environment Partnership (FACHEP) vs. The People of the State of Michigan”). Mr. Edwards did this without speaking to us first or securing our permission to take this action on our behalf. Also, Michigan residents never asked Mr. Edwards to file this complaint on our behalf, nor do we as a “group” support it, so the complaint should be titled “Marc Edwards vs. Whomever He Chooses” (and if there are any Michigan residents who support Mr. Edwards in his complaint, Mr. Edwards should list them all by name). Michigan and Flint residents have their own voice and have never asked Mr. Edwards to speak for us, let alone take official action using our names instead of his own.

It should be obvious by now to anyone paying attention that Mr. Edwards’ claims that he represents “the people of Flint” or works “with Flint residents” are hollow. Those who haven’t figured this out yet should ask themselves why it is that Mr. Edwards’ only evidence of working with “the residents” is a tired show of the same group of 2-3 individuals who are embedded with Mr. Edwards and loyal to him. The reality is that the majority of Flint residents who initially brought Mr. Edwards into Flint and worked with him now have distanced themselves from him. Many of these residents feel that Mr. Edwards’ drama, changes in stance, and attacks on residents and researchers have ended up taking Flint residents’ voice away and giving it to Mr. Edwards. This has allowed Mr. Edwards to make Flint’s Water Crisis about himself and not the people.

Media report about Edwards’ complaint: HERE

Edwards’ March 29, 2018 blog post (along with many other outlandish blog posts that bear zero resemblance to professionalism or assistance to Flint residents): http://flintwaterstudy.org/2018/03/fachep-vs-the-people-of-the-state-of-michigan-part-i-dr-shawn-mcelmurry/ 

2. Obstruction of Flint’s right for self-determination: Residents of Flint object to Mr. Edwards fighting his own petty and vicious fights against anyone and everyone he sees as a challenger or competitor, and against anyone and everyone Flint residents turn to for help other than himself, all under the guise of "protecting" and "saving" us, or “defending” science. This is dishonest, paternalistic and exploitative and, we fear, used by Mr. Edwards to build his own professional and financial power. It also violates the most basic right that we have for self-determination. The allegations listed in Mr. Edwards’ latest complaint against Mr. McElmurry are eerily similar to previous attacks by Mr. Edwards on affected Flint residents, journalists, attorneys, as well as other researchers and groups that may not share Mr. Edwards’ opinion about the Flint Water Crisis recovery stage. Far too many residents in Flint are exhausted from Mr. Edwards’ bullying, his claims to be the "humanitarian" who so "cares" for the people, and his Hollywood antics -- this is not Entertainment Tonight. The sensational title of Mr. Edwards’ March 29, 2018 blog post alone suggests that Mr. Edwards is using our crisis and suffering for entertainment, intrigue, exhibitionism, and personal power that might attract the media and outside readers but are completely inappropriate for the circumstances. Many residents now fear the possibility that Mr. Edwards’ glib, reckless, and egotistical conduct may hamper the ongoing criminal investigation into the Legionnaires deaths in our city, which we see as the only form of justice we might achieve (http://michiganradio.org/post/scientific-disagreements-could-affect-special-prosecutor-s-case-flint-water-crisis.) This additional and totally undeserved worry suddenly adds to the stress and chaos we already feel.

3. Unsubstantiated defamation of Flint residents: Mr. Edwards’ portrayal of Flint residents as dumb, dirty and vulnerable to being misled by anyone other than himself started in early 2016, is ongoing, and is misguided and offensive, because:

a) WE, Flint residents, are the ones who discovered our water’s contamination months before we brought Mr. Edwards in our city. Also, despite Mr. Edwards’ claim to the contrary, WE are the ones who have always led and continue to lead the activism on the ground. In reality, Mr. Edwards’ work wouldn't be possible without US.

b) Contrary to Mr. Edwards’ claims, Flint residents were never told that shigella was in our tap water and, as a whole, never stopped using proper hygiene from fear of the water. The allegation that FACHEP announced that they found shigella in Flint water is a lie. The allegation that WE caused our own shigella outbreak because we stopped bathing out of fear of the water, is also a lie. The CDC showed, and presented to Flint residents, that the shigella outbreak was NOT due to residents not bathing. But Mr. Edwards never retracted his false statements. We (of course) bathe, which is why we have been saying that the problems with our water are not over. It is BECAUSE we bathe that we experience rashes, breathing problems in the shower and more. Contrary to Mr. Edwards’ claims, we WANT science that addresses our questions, experiences and needs. Science has NEVER scared us. What scares us is Mr. Edwards who uses his position as a scientist to misrepresent us and silence us.  

c) In May 2016, Mr. Edwards erroneously accused Scott Smith and Water Defense of scaring residents out of bathing (https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/may/31/flint-lead-tainted-water-crisis-michigan-safe-to-use). Now, in March 2018, while testifying for the State of Michigan in defense of Dr. Eden Wells and Nick Lyon, both charged with involuntary manslaughter for hiding the deadly Legionnaires outbreak in Flint, Mr. Edwards also accused Dr. Laura Sullivan and Mr. McElmurry of FACHEP of causing Flint residents to stop bathing because their research scared us (according to some reports, Mr. Edwards made the preposterous claim that as many as 80% of us returned to a state of filth). This is insulting and false. It is also blatantly unscientific because Mr. Edwards did not bother to ask actual Flint residents about our bathing habits before coming up with this pronouncement. As residents of Flint, who must have up-to-date information in order to make informed decisions about our health, we believe that we are entitled IN REAL TIME to ALL relevant findings that scientific research produces, even if those findings involve uncertainties, and we appreciate FACHEP for alerting us to the fact that filters can increase the growth of bacteria if sitting unused for a long period of time. We also appreciate the work that other researchers have done to help answer our questions and communicate more meaningfully with our doctors.

4. To our knowledge, there is no one in the scientific community overseeing Mr. Edwards’ work or the way he uses his power over powerless residents. As far as we know there is no one in the scientific community ensuring the integrity and honesty of Mr. Edwards’ words, research and activism. Mr. Edwards has repeatedly spoken and written about how there are no bacteria or dangerous pathogens in Flint residents’ water, even though he is not a microbiologist nor is he doing mass testing within our homes. Also, Mr. Edwards has assured Flint residents that it is safe to bathe in unfiltered water even though he has not done widespread testing of hot shower water and he is not a physician, dermatologist or toxicologist. However, when Flint residents reached out to microbiologists, physicians, dermatologists and toxicologists for answers, they too were the aim of absurd social media attacks by Mr. Edwards.

Ultimately, Mr. Edwards’ focus, and the focus of any specialist claiming to “save” us, should be on our LIVES, our first-hand EXPERIENCES, our NEEDS, and on the fact that we are still suffering. Instead, Mr. Edwards goes around the country giving talks that dismiss our concerns and calls us “tribal” (https://www.swarthmore.edu/news-events/listen-engineer-marc-edwards-truth-seeking-age-tribalism, https://nicholas.duke.edu/about/events/truth-seeking-age-tribalism-lessons-flint-water-crisis-marc-edwards). Shockingly, Mr. Edwards has gone as far as to declare that the Flint Water Crisis was over 2 years ago (in 2016). We believe it would be best that Mr. Edwards now leaves our town alone. We need an end to his disruptive presence so that we can finally clean up the mess he has left behind him, focus on healing the rifts he has created between residents, and try to address the real problems plaguing us. Mr. Edwards’ choice to initiate drama distracts from the real suffering in Flint and needs to stop NOW.

We are reaching out to you, key representatives of the scientific and engineering communities who keep awarding and rewarding Mr. Edwards for his behavior, because we need full protection from Mr. Edwards immediately. We also need an immediate investigation that puts OUR voices at the center and demands evidence for all claims made by Mr. Edwards. We ask for a committee that includes academics, professionals, and Environmental Justice leaders who have expertise in abuses of professional power against poisoned communities like Flint.

We thank you for your time and are looking forward to a prompt response.

Please contact FlintComplaint@gmail.com

Sincerely, 

Aaron Swinger, Flint Resident

Abel Delgado, Flint Resident

Amie Dinnan, Flint Resident

Arturo Salinas, Flint Resident

Ben Pauli, Flint Resident

Bethany Hazard, Flint Resident

Bobbi J. Coates, J.D., Flint Resident

Brittany Fletcher, Flint Resident

Butch Siebecker, Flint Resident

Carroll Kinkade, Flint Resident

Caleb Mays, Flint Resident

Chris Thornton, Flint Resident

Clarissa Camez, Flint Resident

Coby L. Yaklin, Flint Resident

Corbin Donovan, Flint Resident

Dale Mata, Flint Worker

Danielle Montpas, Flint Resident

Dawn Reyes, Flint Resident

Dr. Laura Sullivan, Professor of Mechanical Engineering, Flint Resident

Diane Soracco, Flint Resident

Eric Brow, Flint Resident

Eva Worthing, City of Flint Councilwoman & Resident

Frances Anderson, Flint Resident

Grace Seymore, Flint Roller Derby, Flint Resident

Haley Renae, Flint Resident

Jackie Barnes & Arrow, Flint Resident

Jamis Crawford, Flint Resident

Jennifer Dudley, Flint Resident

Jill Robison, Flint Resident

Juann Marshall, Flint Resident

Kelly Smith, Flint Resident

Kinea S. Wright, Flint Resident

Laura Mebert, Flint Resident

Lori Lacko, Flint Resident

Marla Garland, Flint Resident

Martha Dellinger, Flint Parent

Mary Johnson, Flint Resident

Melissa Mays, Water You Fighting For, Flint Resident

Michael Mays, Water You Fighting For, Flint Resident

Michele Siebecker, Flint Resident

Michelle Denton, Flint Resident

Mona Munroe-Younis, Flint Resident

Nakiya Wakes, Flint Resident

Qiana Towns, Flint Resident

Rhonda Kelso, Flint Resident

Robert L. Johnson, Flint Resident

Robert W Cranmer, Flint Resident

Rochelle Kelley, Flint Resident

Ronda Thornton, Flint Resident

Rozeita Thomas, Flint Resident

Sabrina Donovan, Flint Resident

Shawn Jones, Flint Worker

Sherri J. Cross, Flint Resident

Tabitha Fenn, Education Watchdogs, Flint Resident

Teresa Teal Vestal, Flint Resident

The Reverend Dan Scheid, Episcopal Priest, Flint

Tracy Midkiff, Flint Resident

Trina Downer, Flint Student

Victoria Marx, Flint Resident

Vivian Kao, Flint Resident
…And more as signatures are collected

Non-Flint Residents, Signed On to Supportsignature

Antonio Lopez, Illinois

Bobbi Collyer, Virginia

Brian Coyle

Carol Skyrm, American Friends Service Committee, New York

Colette Metcalf, Clean Safe Water for Flint, Michigan

Dennis Adams, Michigan

Dr. Marian Ronan, Research Professor, New York Theological Seminary

Eric Lilly, Washington

Francisca Tobacco, Lakota Tribe, South Dakota

Herman Davis, President, Donald Davis Cherrylawn Block Club Association, Michigan

Ivy Martin

Jasmine Rafaad, California

Jeff Pezzi, MPRF, Michigan

Jevgeniy Bluwstein, University of Copenhagen, Denmark

Juan Sebastian Arias, Illinois

Julian Rodriguez, Jr., Pala Tribe

Joy Garland, Environmental Education Advisory Council, NYC

Joye Braun, Indigenous Environmental Network

Leslie Scales Hernandez, Earthspeak.org, California

Madeleine Vagnone, New York

Mary Ferris, Louisiana

Mr. Charles Higbie, Key West, FL

Maureen D. Taylor, State Chair, Michigan Welfare Rights Organization

Nancy Foster

Patricia Jones, Washington

Paul Schwartz, Member, Campaign for Lead Free Water, Washington DC

Rebecca Rutt, Assistant Professor

Renard Prather

Robert Miranda, Freshwater for Life Action Coalition, Wisconsin

Samantha Magdaleno, 1 Michigan

Sam Riddle, J.D, Political Director, Michigan National Action Network

Tisha Singleton, Wisconsin

Yanna Lambrinidou, Member, Campaign for Lead Free Water, Washington DC