EPA launches civil rights investigation into Mississippi water issues

NAACP Chairman Derrick Johnson, who lives in Jackson with his family, called the EPA’s investigation a step in the right direction after years of state withholding federal funds needed to avoid the system. city ​​water supply.

“We believe we have provided compelling evidence that the State of Mississippi intentionally deprived the city of Jackson of the resources necessary to maintain its water infrastructure,” Johnson told The Associated Press on Thursday. “We want the EPA and this administration to come up with an action plan to keep Mississippi State from doing it again.”

Johnson was named among several resident plaintiffs in the NAACP’s civil rights lawsuit against Mississippi. He said the state’s inaction and its record of divestment in Jackson amounted to “systemic negligence.”

“We believe that every citizen of this country should have the right to clean, fresh drinking water,” Johnson said. “Unfortunately, we live in a state that still deals with racial politics. And as a result of that, you have state leaders who seek to penalize African American residents of the city of Jackson in a very discriminatory way.

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Associated Press writer Michael Phillis in St. Louis contributed to this report. Daly reported from Washington and Morrison reported from New York.

Emily Wagster Pettus, Matthew Daly and Aaron Morrison, Associated Press