Detroit Activist, Reporter Spar Over Human Right to Water

slide_331482_3280879_freeA Detroit activist and a television reporter got into a shouting match on MSNBC on Tuesday as they discussed how thousands of the city’s residents have been left without water.

In March, the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department announced plans to stop water service for customers who were behind on their bills; since then, it has shut off water service for more than 12,000 people, according to The New York Times.

The United Nations weighed in, with a trio of experts saying shutting off water to those who can’t afford it “constitutes a violation of the human right to water.”

Hank Winchester, a reporter for Detroit’s local NBC affiliate WDIV-TV, appeared on MSNBC Live on Tuesday morning to discuss the water shutoffs with anchor Craig Melvin.

He noted that the department would work with people who could not afford their bills and then claimed, “There are other people, and this is where it gets controversial, who simply don’t want to pay the water bill, who would rather spend money on cable. … A lot of these people are not willing to work out a deal [with the water department].”

Maureen Taylor, state chair of the Michigan Welfare Rights Organization, responded with frustration.

“Let me say shame on Hank, shame on him for putting that lie and that mess and that disinformation out on the air. To suggest that people don’t want to pay for a water bill is scandalous,” Taylor said. “What is at stake here is that there are tens of thousands of low-income families who cannot pay rising water bill costs… and we’ve got these reporters out here like this guy that’s standing on the side of people who have money.”


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