JACKSON, Mississippi (WLBT) – A civil rights inquiry into the state’s “abandoned investment” in Jackson’s water system could be a test case for a new office set up at the Environmental Protection Agency to focus on environmental justice. I have.
An estimated 800 people gathered at New Hope Baptist Church in Jackson on Monday to hear from leaders about two ongoing investigations into the city’s crisis. Both could help determine whether states intentionally discriminate against majority black capitals in providing federal funding. For water and sewage infrastructure.
City Hall comes just days after agreeing to allow the EPA’s Office of Foreign, Civil Rights, and Environmental Justice to conduct an investigation into alleged discrimination, and weeks after a complaint was filed by the NAACP.
Before the EPA undertook that case, Rep. Benny Thompson launched his own investigation into state spending, telling Governor Tate Reeves that the state could spend billions on the federal American Relief Plan Act and bipartisan infrastructure. We also asked for data on plans to distribute or distribute Law money, and whether those plans adversely affected the capital.
“The question is whether Jackson’s water customer, the city of Jackson, will be treated fairly and fairly,” said House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Thompson. “When we sent money here, it was expected that all equal opportunity and civil rights laws would be followed.”
Thompson and Carolyn Maloney launched an investigation on October 17. The EPA has announced that it will begin an investigation on October 20.
The NAACP called for an investigation shortly after EPA Administrator Michael Reagan announced the creation of the Office of Foreign Civil Rights and Environmental Justice.
Abre’ Conner, Director of Environment and Climate Justice at the NAACP, said: “Our management complaint was filed…because we wanted to hold management accountable as well.”
The complaint was filed under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development website, the law states that any program that receives federal funding must not discriminate against individuals based on race, color, or national origin.
In September, the National NAACP, the Mississippi State Conference of the NAACP, NAACP President Derrick Johnson, former Jackson Mayor Harvey Johnson, and others said the state had “repeatedly… stripped Jackson of federal funds.” and called for a Title VI investigation. Supports maintaining public drinking water systems and funding small, predominantly white communities with less acute needs. ”
They say that as a result of that “investment deprivation,” the city’s water system collapsed, culminating in a water crisis in February 2021 and August or September 2022.
“The purpose of our complaint was to spice up the conversation and target the entity that caused the injury,” Derrick Johnson said. clean and drinkable water [and] Public property remains public. ”
Connor told the crowd that the state’s discrimination against the city was evident in the fact that Jackson had only received federal funding from the state three times in the last 25 years. The city noted additional oversight as part of its infrastructure grant program.
Established by Congress during the 2022 session, MCWI will provide $1 for every dollar of American Rescue Planning Act (ARPA) that cities and counties use to improve water and wastewater infrastructure.
Most cities and counties that receive funding through the program are directly allocated. However, Jackson is subject to additional oversight from state agencies.
According to Johnson, systemic racism has affected the city for years, with everything from establishing a Metro Chamber of Commerce to pushing for a local government to manage Jackson’s water. can be seen in
He said creating such powers would deprive the city’s elected leaders of control of the water system.
“So the Title VI complaint we filed is to lift these things and many others… so that the EPA can investigate and suspend discriminatory actions against the State of Mississippi. is,” he said.
In addition to holding the EPA accountable, Johnson said the complaint is also intended to ensure that the Biden administration lives up to its promise to address “systemic racism.” I’m here.
“If the current administration says its goal is to address systemic racism and systemic barriers, Jackson must be the test case,” Johnson said.
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