Mathis, who’s celebrating 20 years of his Emmy Award-winning television show “Judge Mathis,” stopped by “The View” on Monday to discuss the progress, albeit slow, being made in Flint since the city’s drinking water became tainted with lead in April 2014. The Detroit native said residents still don’t have clean water, and are stuck buying their own bottled water after the state ended its free water distribution program.
Recalling his last conversation with the late soul singer, Mathis said it was Franklin who encouraged him to go back and help.
“She said, ‘Greg, you gotta go back up there,’ ” he told co-host Whoopi Goldberg, adding that he was unsure about it at first after the backlash he faced when he protested in Flint a few years back. He said Franklin told him a little bad press shouldn’t keep him away.
“[Franklin] said ‘well go up there, you’re from Detroit. You shouldn’t be scared, so get up there and sock it to ’em, sock it to ’em.’ So those were our last words,” Mathis recalled.
Since the water crisis began, the judge said the city’s leaders, including Mayor Karen Weaver, have been adamant about replacing hundreds of old lead pipes and are now working to determine if the state breached its contract promising free bottled water to city residents until the water supply was clean and safe to drink.
“[The state] thinks this water is clean, and they want these folks to believe that,” Mathis said. “The same people who poisoned them are now telling them ‘go ahead, and drink it again.’ ”
Co-host Sunny Hostin argued that the people of Flint were essentially poisoned by the government. Mathis assured her that folks had been held responsible, with 15 state and city officials indicted for the crisis so far.
On Nov. 1, the judge said he plans to send a caravan packed with thousands of cases of water from his foundation in Detroit to the residents in Flint.
“Where the government stopped, we’re gonna come in and deliver,” said Mathis. “And secondly, we’re gonna have a rally that evening to kind of challenge the state and city to get things done.”
Watch more in the clip below.