The Rockford Study Group Presents:


AUDIO REPLAY (7-14-2019): Rockford's Nation of Islam Student Minister, Yahcolyah Muhammad, speaks on the subject of "Loving Self is Loving God," in which he demonstrates how the knowledge of self is in actuality the knowledge of God and that as human beings, nothing in the universe exists beyond the understanding of the human experience. Identifying envy as the great destroyer of development and progress, he implores his audience to rise above the impulsiveness of emotion and into a greater understanding of our divinity, as the Original Man and Woman from whom we descend, are the greatest of God's creations.

"Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding." (Proverbs 4:7). 

"He grants wisdom to whom He pleases. And whoever is granted wisdom, he indeed is given a great good. And none mind but men of understanding." 
(Holy Qur'an 2:269).

Sundays: General lecture 10:00AM
Mondays: FOI Class (Brothers only) 7:30 PM
Wednesdays: Evening lecture: 7:30PM 
Saturdays: MGT Class (Sisters only) 
UPDATE: Contact Sis Rahsheemah @ (779) 770-3817 for Women's class info.

For more information: Call (815) 742-6758

The Rockford Study Group:
1005 S. Court Street, Rockford, IL 61102 

From The Final Call Newspaper

Remembering Elijah Al-Amin: A collision between an innocent victim, White fear and White supremacy

By Barrington M. Salmon Contributing Writer @bsalmondc

This undated photo provided by Serina Rides shows her son Elijah Al-Amin. Photo: AP Serina Rides

The sheer audacity and the ruthlessness of Elijah Al-Amin’s death is reverberating far beyond the Circle K convenience store where a man—two days out of prison—walked up behind him while he was getting a fountain drink, stabbed him twice in the back and then cut his throat.

Elijah, 17, died shortly after in a Phoenix area hospital in the early morning hours of Independence Day.

Elijah Al-Amin, 17, was stabbed to death at a convenience store in Peoria, Arizona.

Black parents across the country are holding their children closer, pulling them aside to warn them of the ever-present dangers for children of African descent in America and praying for them every time the young people leave the house.

And in Phoenix, Elijah’s parents, family and others stunned by his murder, are hoping justice will prevail.

Michael Adams has been charged with first-degree premeditated murder. Photo MGN Online

Law enforcement officials identified the killer as Michael Paul Adams, 27. Elijah had stopped at the convenience store after work and walked into the store followed by Mr. Adams. Witnesses say there was no conversation or any type of confrontation prior to Mr. Adams’ attack. The police found Mr. Adams walking nearby the convenience store.

And according to probable cause documents filed by Peoria, Ariz., Mr. Adams confessed, telling them he felt unsafe because of the rap music Elijah was playing. According to court documents, Mr. Adams yelled at detectives and said “rap music made him feel unsafe because in the past, he was attacked by people who listened to that music genre.” Mr. Adams is also said to have told detectives he “needed to be proactive than reactive and protect himself and the community from the victim.”

Mr. Adams was booked into the Maricopa County jail on suspicion of first-degree premeditated murder and held on a $1 million bond. His arraignment was scheduled for July 18.

In his first court appearance, Mr. Adams’ lawyer Jacie Cotterell told the court he’s mentally ill. She repeated her assertion in a TV interview where she accused the Arizona Department of Corrections of releasing Mr. Adams without sufficient supervision or resources.

“They released him to the streets with no holdover meds, no way to care for himself,” Ms. Cotterell said. “This is a disabled person and he’s been released into the world and left to fend for himself. And two days later, this is where we are.”

Ms. Cotterell said Adams needs to be treated for his illness, not sent to prison. She also said she wants to see policy changes and more resources and psychiatric help made available for incarcerated individuals while they’re behind bars.

“I believe that this crime was preventable,” she said. “Policy is all well and good, but when policy fails, I think a reasonable person and reasonable people would agree policy needs to change.”

Corrections department spokespeople said Mr. Adams had not been classified as seriously mentally ill and was not on prescription medication at the time of his release. He was given contact information for social service providers, they said. “He was no longer under the department’s legal jurisdiction and the department had no further legal authority over him,” a spokesman said in a statement.

Ms. Cotterell’s focus on Mr. Adams’ mental illness has angered activists, the public and parents Rahim Al-Amin and Serina Rides.

“It still feels like a really bad dream,” Ms. Rides told a reporter on Good Evening Arizona. “I just can’t foresee how I’m supposed to do this every day, live without my son because somebody says they have a mental issue, because of my son’s passion for music … this definitely is a hate crime. He specified exactly Hispanics, Native Americans and African Americans. He specified that, he specified rap. That’s not a hate crime?”

If Mr. Adams was such a threat, so unstable, she said, why was he released back into the community?

“The world really messed up because that man took my son’s life. I don’t want any parent to suffer like this like his father and I,” the distraught mother said during the interview. “The Department of Correction needs to figure out how to assess these people. Somebody has to be responsible for that. The hardest part is … is learning to live without my baby …”

Elijah’s death trended on social media under the hashtag #JusticeforElijah and Twitter users, Elijah’s friends, family, activists and others were demanding that Mr. Adams be charged with a hate crime.

Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the national Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, said on Twitter, “This murder is a hate crime that must be investigated by the DOJ.” Another Twitter user, K’La@kalahspeaks said: “And yet again another name to add to this already full flag of unarmed black men, women and children, but it’s a ‘mental health’ issue. No, it’s a ‘too much melanin.’ #JusticeForElijah.”

This tragedy is eerily similar to the murder of Jordan Davis, 17, who was shot and killed at a gas station in 2012 by 47-year-old Michael Dunn, who fired into the car with four Black teens because he objected to their loud music argued with Jordan about it. Mr. Dunn is serving life in prison.

Hilario Muhammad, protocol director of the Nation of Islam mosque in Phoenix, said he had learned that Elijah worked at Subway, had worked late, gotten off of work, got a ride and stopped at the Circle K.

“He was catching a ride with a friend who worked at Subway with him,” Mr. Muhammad said. “He was a young man of good character, with no priors. Everybody is devastated because of the reason why he died. What’s making people angry is that lawyer is using the mental illness defense. He confessed to the murder and there was a video camera in store.”

Phoenix resident Susan Marie Smith could barely contain her anger.

“It is a system of discrimination that the Department of Justice has allowed to keep happening. A Black man with no weapons is killed and the system will allow him to plead insanity,” the entrepreneur and former veteran said. “It’s the justification of bullshit. He said ‘I’m gonna kill this nigga.’ ”

Mrs. Smith said she’s pretty sure he “knows the system and that if you say that Black people are threatening or look intimidating,” he’ll get off. The cops always get off with that verbiage and they know how to frame the narrative, she said.

“We’re hearing a contradiction with the state of his mental health. They say when he got discharged, he was supposed to be on medication. But prison officials also said he didn’t need any. They’re trying to make the department responsible for his mental health. The killer had enough sense to know right from wrong or he wouldn’t have followed him. He had to think how to confront the young man and he attacked him from the back, that’s strategic. It’s clear he was angry at Black people. Maybe he got his ass kicked by some Blacks in prison and saw this as a way to get revenge.”

“The family should sue the state if he was released while mentally ill.”

Eric Muhammad, his wife—owners of the Urban Arizona News Journal newspaper—and other interviewees described Arizona as a racial tinderbox with the couple saying they’ve seen groups like the Patriots, Neo-Nazis and other Whites becoming more assertive, particularly in public meetings, since Donald Trump became president.

“It’s very interesting. A lot of people feel that we’re actually targeted by police,” Eric Muhammad explained. “This is a very conservative city, run by non-Blacks. There was a larger Black community when I came in 1991. Now a lot of people are coming here. It looks like there’s a resurgence of consciousness.”

Yet at the same time, Mr. Muhammad’s wife Constance added, there is the increased presence of Whites who resent the presence of Black people and take issue with any attempt by them to assert themselves or their rights.

We live in a time, interviewees said, when seeking to constrain Black movement, thoughts and speech feels right and natural to more than a few White people.

Georgetown Professor Robin Marcus captured the sentiment in an earlier interview.

“In the last few years, there’s been a rising tide all over the world of White people alarmed by the rising tide of Blackness,” she told The Final Call. “It is the strain of American Whiteness that has had enough and found a leader who’s so overtly for them. He’s gotten in the house and opened all the doors.”

Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery reminded the public in a press conference that “Elijah did nothing wrong” and didn’t do anything to provoke the attack. While some have focused on Mr. Adams’ mental health history as a possible motive, Mr. Montgomery encouraged people to shift the narrative back to Elijah, who was the victim.

“Elijah did nothing wrong,” stressed Mr. Montgomery, the father of a teenaged son, who at one point choked up. “He was at a convenience store. He was just in there shopping, buying whatever a 17-year-old boy is going to buy.”

Elijah’s parents said the same as they described their son in glowing terms.

“He was a good kid, very good kid, always wanted to help people in general,” Rahim Al-Amin said in a television interview shortly after his son’s death. “He was just my son, I mean, he was just a good kid going to school. ... He was just a good kid. It’s unfortunate this happened to him. He liked to play sports, he always wanted to help others. He was just a clown, was happy-go-lucky, that’s was who he was. I could say a lot of things about my son but …”

Elijah’s mother said her son was a smart, caring young man who loved to laugh, rap music, loved videogames and loved his family, always looked after his brothers and sister. Elijah was slated to be a senior this year at Apollo High School, would have turned 18 at the end of July, was in the ROTC and wanted to become a Marine and start his own business.

Milwaukee-based mental health expert and licensed psychologist Dr. Ramel Kweku Akyirefi Smith said he thinks what happened represents a failure on multiple levels.

“Corrections knew he had significant health issues. The lawyer said so,” said Dr. Smith, who is also an author, and mental performance coach. “He had had no follow up with anybody. He apparently had mental health issues and was in jail for being violent. He had a propensity to be violent.”

“This is also a failure of the criminal justice system and society at large for allowing racism to persist. It’s the media and Donald Trump who’s made rap music appear to be the trigger. He felt he was doing a ‘service.’ In this environment, our color and skin is weaponized. Even this young man’s light skin was no protection. This is even worse than Trayvon (Martin). He was minding his own business. I don’t care if the music was on his hip, on his head or in the car. This should not have happened.”

What the country is seeing play out now is a legacy of White supremacy, Dr. Smith said. “They’re seeing a person of color and see everything that’s negative and evil,” he said. “I don’t give Trump that much credit. He allowed people to show their true colors. It’s no longer political correctness. This is America in 2019. But this has always been America. Now all this is in full bloom. Are we doing enough to defend ourselves? No! No, we aren’t doing enough. It’s like a bully. He’s going to mess with you until you fight back and kick his butt.”

“Because we don’t do anything it’s allowed to go on. Until there’s retaliation, they’ll keep doing it. My people built this land and I’m not going anywhere. We must demand reparations, land and money. We have to come together to be effective. Until there’s unity, we’ll be vulnerable.”

From The Final Call Newspaper

‘Black snow’ from sugarcane harmful to Black, poor communities in Florida?

By J.S. Adams Contributing Writer @niiahadams

Thick black smoke plumes from sugarcane fields near Belle Glade, Fla., a predominantly Black community west of West Palm Beach and just south of Lake Okeechobee. Residents watch as red-orange flames engulf the sugarcane fields as the industry prepares for harvesting season.

These annual burnings, which take place from October to March, May or June, make it easier for farmers to harvest the sugarcane.

‘Black snow’ or ashes fall on top of vehicle in Glades community. Photos via Stop Sugar Field Burning Now/Facebook

However, the side effects leave the residents of Belle Glade, South Bay and Pahokee with respiratory problems and a poor quality of life.

While these burnings have been going on for several years with groups rising up to combat them, a recent lawsuit against the Florida sugar industry has brought it to national light, bringing attention to an issue that has forced residents to take a stand.

The lawsuit, filed by the Berman Law Group in June, seeks to permanently end the pre-harvesting burning, obtain economic and property damages, and health monitoring, particularly for children, the poor and elderly.

Horses graze in a field near the U.S. Sugar Corporation's mill and refinery in Clewiston, Fla. Nov. 8, 2001. Photo: AP Photo/Amy E. Conn

“The firm has been working on this issue for a long time prior to me joining,” said Joseph Abruzzo, director of government relations for the Berman Law Group. “What put them on track was several clients alerting them to what was occurring with them and that spawned the investigation into hiring the experts (and) finding what was in the air of the Glades community.”

Joining the fight in this lawsuit is Frank Biden, the younger brother of Presidential candidate Joe Biden, and former NFL player Fred Taylor, who grew up in the Glades community. In a video produced by the Berman Law Group, both agree the burnings need to stop.

The sugar industry burns about nine million tons of sugarcane foliage on 400,000 acres each year. EarthJustice, a legal group for environmental organizations, says the burning puts out more than 2,800 tons of hazardous pollutants into the air annually. According to the Sierra Club, an environmental non-profit organization, the sugarcane is burned in order to rid the plant of its outer layer so that the sugar stalk will remain.

Patrick Ferguson, the organizing representative for the Sierra Club’s Stop Sugar Field Burning Campaign, said health issues due to the burnings are a major concern.

“Exposure to pre-harvest sugar field burning pollution has been linked via medical research to many negative health impacts including respiratory diseases, cancer, cardiac disease, and poor infant health outcomes,” he said. “Many of the campaign volunteers either themselves suffer from respiratory issues or have family members who do. Some of our volunteers have young children who have to use breathing devices during the 6-8 months long harvesting season when sugarcane is burned.”

The lawsuit alleges that due to the burning, harmful pollutants are released into the air. It creates “black snow” during burn season, or ashes that fall down onto the Glades communities. Because of this, children in the Glades communities use breathing machines at night and walk to school with trash bags over their head to protect them from the black snow.

“There’s a lake, they have issues,” Mr. Abruzzo said. “I wasn’t too long ago out at one of the churches and multiple ladies had on white dresses. They know when the ash falls on your dresses ... . You can’t swipe it away because it will create a black line. You blow it. The black snow is right in front of their faces, on their car, over their homes and worst of all, it’s in the lungs of the children and elderly.”

The Poor People’s Campaign held an event in Belle Glade where residents, pastors and activists had the chance to share their experiences about the burnings.

Steve Messam

Steve Messam, a pastor born and raised in Belle Glade, shared how his father came to the United States from Jamaica as a contracted migrant worker hired to cut the sugarcane. The pastor got involved with the Sierra Club’s campaign because he noticed many of the people he knew were suffering from breathing difficulties.

“They were suffering from a lot of respiratory issues, whether it was asthma or allergies,” he said during Poor People’s Campaign gathering. “A lot of people were also dying from cancer at a crazy rate.”

Mr. Ferguson says the black snow and air quality affects not only health issues, but the community’s quality of life.

“You’re talking about the harvesting season lasting from October to May, some of the best months to be outside and enjoy the Florida weather and during days when large amounts of toxic burning takes place, people in the region are often forced to stay indoors,” he said.

Alina Alonso, director of the Florida Department of Health in Palm Beach County, said the health department uses a website called to monitor air quality within the region. She said air quality counts remnants that come from ash and into the air. The website measures air quality ranging from good to hazardous.

“Only those who are sensitive to the smoke or burnings will be affected by moderate,” Ms. Alonso said. “But if it gets above 100, then that’s unhealthy for everyone.”

Mr. Ferguson said many doctors in the area suggest options for residents that aren’t always reasonable.

Pre-harvest sugar burning in the Glades. Photos via Stop Sugar Field Burning Now/Facebook

“One common thread that we continue to hear is that doctors tell residents from the communities heavily impacted by pre-harvest sugar field burning that the best long term solution for their health issues is to move to an area with better air quality, which many residents don’t have the resources or the will to do so, nor should they have to do so,” he said.

Back in 2015, the Sierra Club filed a legal action asking the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to regulate the burnings.

“The way sugarcane burning is regulated makes it an environmental justice issue as well. Regulations in place are based off wind speed and direction that prevent burn permits from being issued when the winds would carry the smoke and ash toward the more affluent in eastern Palm Beach County,” Mr. Ferguson said. “However minimal protections are in place from the toxic smoke and ash when they blow toward the lower income rural communities within the Everglades Agricultural Area. This leads the predominantly African-American and Hispanic population of the Glades communities of western Palm Beach County that are surrounded by over 75 percent of the total sugarcane acreage in Florida to disproportionately bear the negative impacts of pre-harvest sugar field burning.”

The alternative that’s offered to the sugarcane industry is green harvesting.

“The Florida sugarcane industry already green harvests in small amounts each year. Other countries around the world have been phasing out of burning altogether because of the negative health and environmental impacts of pre-harvest burning but also because of the many benefits associated with green harvesting as well,” Mr. Ferguson said.

Because of the pre-harvest burning, the Glades communities have suffered economically as well. Mr. Abruzzo said whereas Palm Beach county and the state of Florida have seen an increase in real estate values, property values for the Glades community remain stagnant.

Pre-harvest sugar burning in the Glades. Photos via Stop Sugar Field Burning Now/Facebook

“Everybody knows if you move out there, you’ll have to deal with four months of black snow over your home,” Mr. Abruzzo said.

Mr. Ferguson believes that a shift towards green harvesting can help improve the economic condition of the community.

“[It] can create more economic opportunities which are important especially for the lower income Glades communities,” he said. “What the sugar industry considers as trash can be used to generate more electricity, create mulch, biochar, biofuels, and can even be used to create tree-free paper products.”

Florida sugar companies have caught wind of the Berman Group’s lawsuit and say that they believe in their practices.

“The health, safety and jobs of our communities all are vitally important to U.S. Sugar,” spokeswoman Judy Sanchez told Treasure Coast Newspapers in a statement. “We are American farmers and stand behind the safety and integrity of our farming practices, which are highly regulated and legally permitted on a daily basis by the government. Our farming practices are safe, environmentally sound, highly regulated and closely monitored.”

Ms. Sanchez also said company officials “live in these Glades communities and raise our families here—our children and grandchildren—in the neighborhoods, schools and churches throughout these small, close-knit farming towns.”

Mr. Abruzzo said he’s looking forward to the company providing the names of those officials who live in the area.

“One of the most disappointing things since the lawsuit was filed is the propaganda that the sugar companies are helping lead that we are well aware of and without question will be discussing in depositions, primarily, that the lawsuits are trying to put sugar out of business. That could be anything but the truth,” he said. “The sugar companies profit in the billions of dollars per year. I’m sure they wouldn’t even notice on their balance sheets doing it a proper way and not harming an entire community. This would create more jobs if they do it by hand. At the end of the day, they just can’t burn.”

Mr. Ferguson and volunteers that work with him have spent the past four years pressing this issue. He said it’s something that must be known all around the country.

“There’s no reason the sugarcane industry should continue to put short term profits ahead of the long-term health and welfare of the surrounding residents, especially when there are so many benefits that can be gained from transitioning to green harvesting,” he said. “It’s time for the industry to become better neighbors to the surrounding communities by stopping the burn and switching to green harvesting.”

“I believe it’s a very good thing that attention is being paid to this very important issue. The Glades has been suffering for a very long time.” Mr. Abruzzo said. “Ultimately, I do believe that the law will be with the people. Once this is corrected, I believe the Glades will stop being one of the poorest places in the country. It will be vibrant and flourishing.”

Mr. Abruzzo said the first step after the legal filing is to immediately get the sugar industry to stop burning while the case is going on. This case is federal, but they also plan to file state and individual claims.

From The Final Call Newspaper

Feeling frustrated and betrayed in Flint

By Bryan 18X Crawford |

About 100 people filed into UAW Local 659 hall in Flint, Mich., to get a formal update and explanation as to why the new team of prosecutors dropped all criminal charges against city and state officials who had a hand in creating the worst ecological disasters to affect Black people in this country in recent memory.

Flint resident Ariana Hawk consoles her daughter Aliana, 4, nearing the end of a two-hour community meeting with Flint water prosecutors at UAW Local 659, June 28, in Flint, Mich. Hawk is the mother of Sincere Smith, who graced the cover of Time magazine at the height of the Flint water crisis in 2016. Michigan Solicitor Gen- eral Fadwa Hammoud and Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy spoke to about 100 residents at a union hall in the city. Photos: Jake May/ Flint Journal via AP

The officials showed up on a Friday, June 28, to talk to Flint residents who have been without clean and safe drinking water for more than five years, and it's been three years since those responsible were hit with criminal charges for the decision. But in mid-June, the Michigan Attorney General's Office, led by the newly-elected Dana Nessell, dismissed all criminal charges against those who played a role in the water crisis. A total of 15 state and local officials had been charged with crimes as serious as involuntary manslaughter, with eight still awaiting trial before the legal maneuver was made. Seven others have already taken plea deals.

Michigan Solicitor General Fadwa Hammoud and Wayne County prosecutor Kym Worthy stood in front of the audience and tried to justify their controversial decision.

"We know that you have concerns. We know that you have questions. And quite frankly we know that you're angry, "Mrs. Hammoud told the crowd. "We know that there are many deaths out there, yet to be investigated. And it is our obligation- when we accepted this position, when we take an oath to represent the people of the state of Michigan-to investigate those deaths. Those families deserve it."

Ms. Hammoud said that within a month’s time, their own investigation team uncovered approximately 20 million documents the previous prosecutorial team seemed to have been unable to find in the three years they worked on the case. She blamed Andy Arena, the former director of the FBI’s Detroit office, for failing to properly handle all searches related to critical documents. “We have received information that is absolutely relevant to our investigation that we have never had before ... . There were some phone dumps we never had. And the first thing we said, ‘If we don’t have this, what else don’t we have?’ ” asked Ms. Hammoud.

Representatives of the Michigan Attorney General’s office showed the audience a number of heavily redacted, critical documents related to the case that were uncovered during their review of the previous file. Kym Worthy, who was brought in by Attorney General Nessel to help with jumpstarting the new investigation, told the audience about the newly-discovered documents. “I’ve never seen anything like it. That causes questions. Was this a real investigation?” she asked.

As much as $31 million of taxpayer money has already been spent on the previous investigation and legal proceedings. News of the dropped charges was not only a blow to the people of Flint, but added to a strong feeling of distrust of both city and state political leaders, and a feeling of despair that after their 62-month-long, ongoing struggle, justice may never be served.

Katia Kenney, 18, of Flint, Mich., volunteers as she loads cases of water into vehicles as non-profit Pack Your Back distrib- utes more than 37,000 bottles of water on April 22, 2019, at Dort Federal Event Center in Flint.

“They didn’t come to the community. We had reporters call to tell us that the charges were dropped and they wanted to know what our response was. Then we read about it in the paper,” Claire McClinton, a Flint resident and one of the driving forces in getting the story out to the world, told The Final Call.

During the meeting, when the floor was opened for residents to ask questions and speak their minds, the frustration and pain in the voices of those who took the microphone was palpable.

“Do you not realize how it felt when you released to the press dropping the charges without coming here first? Without any kind of communication?” Laura McIntyre asked angrily while addressing Ms. Hammoud. “You could have at least have said, we’re going to be doing something, but we can’t talk about it [right now]. Just any kind of acknowledgment that we existed before going to the press. And then waiting 15 days to have this meeting, it really hurt. It really did a lot to destroy a lot of trust.”

Arthur Woodson, a community activist and the first Flint resident to speak that evening, was unhappy with the terms of already accepted plea deals. “They got less time for poisoning over 98,000 people than somebody stealing a slice of pizza. People are dying. It’s hard to trust,” he said.

Marijoyce Campbell, a 65-year-old lifelong Flint resident, sheds tears as she gets choked up after speaking her mind during a community meeting with Flint water prosecutors at UAW Local 659, June 28, in Flint, Mich. Campbell said she had a "heavy heart" after learning about the new docu- ments and being told some materials the previous investigative team had were heavily redacted. Michigan Solicitor General Fadwa Hammoud and Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy spoke to the residents, two weeks after dismissing charges against the former state health director and other officials.

“I cannot believe something like this can happen,” added lifelong Flint resident Marijoyce Campbell, fighting back tears. “Please, please tell me some heads are going to roll; that somebody is going to pay for all this murder, all this criminal activity.”

“I just feel they should’ve continued with the charges they already had,” Audrey Muhammad, a Flint resident who has been advocating for justice for the people of the city, told The Final Call. “The reason I say they should’ve kept going is this: Because this has been stretched out for so long, I don’t feel like there will be a true conviction on higher charges.”

Adding to the concern expressed by Ms. Muhammad is the fact that the statute of limitations on many of the charges are set to expire in approximately nine months. Ms. Worthy, however, tried to assure all of those in the room that justice would be pursued properly and much faster.

Detroit attorney Cynthia M. Lindsey stands alongside her clients Buffi Clements, 42 at center, and her sister, Brandi, as they talk about the death of their father Joseph C. Clements, who passed away from kidney cancer in July 2017 during a rally on the five-year anniversary of the Flint water crisis on April 25 outside of the Flint, Mich., water plant. Buffi Clements said their family believes his cancer was caused by drinking Flint tap water following the switch, and are currently part of a class action lawsuit. Photo: Jake May/ Flint Journal via AP

“We can’t tell you where we’re going to go, we can’t tell you where it’s going to lead, we’re going to go where the facts and evidence lead us,” she said. “I know that’s been repetitive but that’s the truth. Anything else would be irresponsible.”

While the initial cause of the problem, the switching of the water supply sourced from Lake Huron and the Detroit River to the highly polluted Flint River has been corrected, and a number of infrastructure repairs related to corroded pipes done, city residents are still relying on bottled water for their basic, everyday needs.

Bill Schuette, the former attorney general for the state of Michigan, defended his team’s investigation and the way it was handled. “We took the steps that preserved the evidence in this case. And our work was not done,” he said in a statement. “Two judges bound significant cases over for trial. And we were prepared to go forward with robust prosecutions. But this is not about prosecutor versus prosecutor. This has always been, and only been, a fight for justice for the families of Flint. We acknowledge it’s their case now and we wish them success in their pursuit of justice for the people of Flint.”

Some water activists are convinced the motive behind this disaster was a sinister one and bigger than the town of Flint, Mich. They see a battle brewing across the country and all over the world when it comes to water.

“People have to understand that water is the new money. It’s the new gold. People are actually investing in water,” Yonasda Lonewolf, an activist who organized and protested in both Standing Rock and Flint, told The Final Call. Dakota Access Pipeline protests began in early 2016 in reaction to the approved construction of an oil pipeline in the northern United States. Native American tribes worried about plans to run the pipeline from oil fields in North Dakota to southern Illinois, under the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers and beneath Lake Oahe near the Standing Rock Indian Reservation. Many Native Americans saw the pipeline as a threat to clean water and to ancient burial grounds. Massive protests were held in opposition to the pipeline in 2016. The pipeline was eventually completed in 2017 through the actions of the Trump administration. But military and police violence against protestors and indigenous “Water Protectors” was stunning during the months of opposition.

“But why are people investing in water?” asked Ms. Lonewolf. “Because these corporations and greedy government officials are fighting to control the water … . I understand that, of course, they’re not going to give the people of Flint justice on their number one investment. So, with that being said, there have been so many people who have left and moved out of Flint, and the people who have stayed are poor and live below the poverty level. So they’re just waiting for them to leave because outside investors have already started to come into Flint for redevelopment.”

“I’ve stopped paying attention to what the politicians and everyone else has been saying and I’ve been trying to work on getting our people to understand about separation and that they’ve got to be prepared to do something for themselves,” Audrey Muhammad said. “We have to make sure we’re taking care of ourselves in this situation because we don’t know how long it’s going to take. But you still have some of our people who say, ‘No, they’re going to make this right. They’ve got to make this right.’ Well, while you’re saying that, what are you going to do in the meantime? Are you just going to allow yourself to die while you’re waiting on them to give you justice? Or are you going to get up and start doing things for yourself?”

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)