Flint Democratic Debate Protest


Grace Jensen

A protest occurred outside of the Democratic Debate press room on March 6th in Flint, Michigan. The protesters wanted to raise the minimum wage and a solution to the Flint water crisis.

Only a few hours before the Democratic debate in Flint, MI, a loud drumming disrupted the soft clicking of laptop keys and the repeated news cycle playing on TVs in the press room. The media, being the media, rushed in flocks to see what was going on, bringing cameras and recording devices with them. Getting a glimpse outside, the reporters were greeted with the sight of protesters holding signs, cardboard cut-outs of blue water droplets and a poster depicting Governor Rick Snyder with devil horns. A chant could now be heard, a loud, constant, “This is what democracy looks like.” The drumming proved to be coming from actual drums that the protestors were beating rhythmically.

The rioters had a clear agenda; they were against Governor Snyder, for economic equality and most of all, concerned about what was being done to relieve Flint’s water crisis.

As Candice Rideout, a protester and Flint resident explained, “They’re saying, whatever one candidate, whether it’s Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton, ‘Which one of you will stand with us for higher wages? For $15 an hour [minimum wage]? For fast food restaurant workers?’ and also, ‘Which one of you will stand with us and make sure that the water quality here in Flint will be better?’”

Another protester, Melvin Washington, had steps laid out for what he thought was wrong in Flint and Michigan in general. “The emergency manager that we had, we shouldn’t have had him in the first place, for one,” Washington said. “For two, Rick Snyder, he needs to go. For three, we need to get everyone in Michigan united, as one, so we can have a better economy. Not just for Flint, or Detroit, or Lansing, for everyone in Michigan.”

The protest disbanded before the debate started, but it got lots of media attention. As far as attention from the Democratic candidates, the Flint water crisis was a major topic of the debate.

“I want them to hear what we are trying to do in Michigan,” Washington said. “I want them to notice that if they want to get in office then they need our vote.”