Flint’s still in the middle of a water crisis. Indigenous (Native) Americans and activists are still protesting the Dakota Pipeline. White nationalists believe they’ve found an ally with the president-elect. For some citizens, Thanksgiving dinner is the least of their worries.
But that’s not stopping people from trying to get into the spirit regardless. National Action Network President Al Sharpton told the AmNews that the holiday is an important time to get together with loved ones, because you can’t be “on” all the time from an activist and political perspective.
“Thanksgiving is a time to come together to celebrate our country’s commonalities and differences, and celebrate sharing with those that are underserved or in need,” said Sharpton in an emailed statement to the AmNews. “NAN feeds the hungry and gives out turkeys every year at this time, and our headquarters in both Harlem and Newark are open to the public on Thanksgiving. It’s easy to get sidetracked by political setbacks and social strife, but let this holiday serve as a reminder that the fight for religious freedom and justice is a battle of Americans of all color and creeds. National Action Network is committed to that fight every day.”
In Michigan, Flint’s water crisis continues despite to the lack of current mainstream media spotlight. Citizens still have to rely on bottled water provided to them by the local government for daily activities such as cooking and washing.
In a statement to residents, the Michigan State Police, Emergency Management and Homeland Security Division announced that all community water resource sites will be closed Thanksgiving Day. Citizens were told to make sure they acquire all bottled water, water filters, replacement cartridges and at-home water testing kits before Nov. 24.
“Please do not wait to obtain your water supplies,” said Capt. Chris Kelenske, Deputy State Director of Emergency Management and Homeland Security and commander of the MSP/EMHSD, in a statement. “We will have plenty of bottled water, water filters, replacement cartridges and at-home testing kits for anyone who needs them to last through the holiday.”
But one major corporation, for now, is looking to help. Joined with community organizers and leaders, the PepsiCo Foundation opened two community help centers to provide resources to people affected by the water crisis. The Help Centers are funded in part by a $570,000 grant from the PepsiCo Foundation. In addition, the company provided the network of Flint nonprofit organizations with pro-bono, skills-based consulting, through its PepsiCorps program.
“We are very excited about the opening of these new Help Centers and the much-needed supplies and resources they will offer to Flint residents,” said Flint Mayor Karen Weaver in a statement. “The water in Flint still isn’t safe to drink without a filter. This water crisis is much bigger than Flint can handle alone, but with help from our government and community organizations, we will emerge from this stronger and better than before. Thank you, PepsiCorps and Food Bank of Eastern Michigan, for joining forces to make this happen.”
The help centers will be managed by the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan.
It’s a temporary happy ending for the beginning of holiday season. But other areas aren’t as lucky.
The myth of Thanksgiving is that the pilgrims and natives gathered for a feast as a gesture of peace. But the history showing the systematic wipeout of the America’s original population tells a different story.
Members of the local Standing Rock Sioux tribe in North Dakota are fighting a $3.7 billion pipeline designed to carry crude oil from North Dakota to a refinery in Illinois. They fear the pipeline will pollute water supplies and destroy sacred land. This past weekend, police in riot gear doused protesters with water cannons in 27-degree weather. Activists told The Guardian that during a protest near a bridge in Cannon Ball, N.D., a concussion grenade allegedly struck 21-year-old activist Sophia Wilansky. Activists claim that the incident could leave Wilansky with an amputated left arm.
But a representative from Morton County, N.D., Sheriff’s Department said that they hadn’t used any concussion grenades and even suggested to The Guardian that Wilansky might have hurt herself while “rigging up their own explosives” to be thrown at police.
A group of religious leaders of various faiths released a statement denouncing the authorities and pushing for a meeting with President Barack Obama to voice opposition to the Dakota Pipeline.
“The Standing Rock Sioux, along with some 200 Native American tribes and a growing number of individuals and organizations, are acting not only in their own interest but also in the interest of the 18 million regional residents who would see their water supply compromised by an oil spill in the Missouri River,” read the statement. “And beyond this very legitimate local concern, all those involved also point to the larger environmental imperatives.
“The power lies in your hands to achieve an immediate halt to the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline, assure compliance with established law, suspend current and any future permits and guarantee full respect for the sovereign nations within our borders,” the statement continued. “This is our urging, in the name of Life itself.”