The complaint was filed with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
The NAACP has filed a discrimination complaint alleging that resident’s of Jackson, predominantly of the black community, have been discriminated against by state leadership in many scenarios including the most recent water crisis.
The complaint was filed under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000d, and 40 C.F.R. Part 7. The NAACP filed the suit “Regarding Discrimination by the State of Mississippi Gravely Adversely Impacting the Drinking Water System for the City and the Health and Well Being of the People of Jackson, Mississippi.”
The complaint was filed with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Office of External Civil Rights Compliance. It claims that for years the State of Mississippi, including agencies and officials, have discriminated against the City of Jackson on the basis of race.
Jackson has a majority-black population at 82.47%, a white population of 16.19%, two or more races at 0.70% and Asians population of 0.33%.
The complain alleges:
“This discrimination is evident in the State’s repeatedly having deprived Jackson of federal funds to maintain its public drinking water system in favor of funding smaller, majority-white communities with less acute needs—despite the fact that Jackson is Mississippi’s most populous city, with a demonstrated need for improvements to water infrastructure. The result is persistently unsafe and unreliable drinking water and massive gaps in the access to safe drinking water that are intolerable in any modern society. These circumstances came to a head within the past few weeks, when Jackson was forced to shut down its drinking water supply for days in late August, and then when—upon the eventual restoration of service—the water remained unsafe to drink and a boil water notice remained in effect until it was lifted by the State Department of Health on September 15, 2022.2 Nearly all of the residents of Jackson have watched brackish, dirty, impure, and undrinkable water trickle from their taps. At times, some have had no water at all.”
NAACP President & CEO, Derrick Johnson, released the following statement:
“Everyone deserves safe, clean drinking water. In 2022, there is no excuse as to why our government cannot provide the necessary infrastructure to ensure that all of its residents have access to this basic human right. The residents of Jackson, Mississippi, a predominantly Black community, have suffered at the hands of discriminatory state leadership for far too long. It is apparent that the racist funding policies of Governor Tate Reeves and the State of Mississippi prevented the execution of critical infrastructure updates necessary to avoid the crisis we are now facing.
”While the boil advisory may have been lifted, the threat of water insecurity continues to loom over Jackson. Governor Reeves and the State of Mississippi have placed thousands of lives at risk and created a crisis that will impact the Black community in Jackson for decades and generations to come. The NAACP will continue to push forward in the fight to ensure that justice is served, these inequities are addressed, and the people of Jackson receive the clean drinking water they deserve.”
The groups Director of Environmental and Climate Justice, Abre’ Conner said that the water crisis was the most recent example of negligence, going so far as to accuse it as racist, to underfund basic water services for black communities.
“Make no mistake – this is nothing new. Our country has a longstanding history of mistreating, and neglecting Black communities, putting the lives of men, women, and children at risk. As our infrastructure continues to age and the effects of climate change worsen, we will continue to experience crises such as the one in Jackson, not only in Mississippi but in predominantly Black communities throughout the country.”
Conner said that “this is just the beginning” and urged the EPA and DOJ to take legal action in what he calls wrongdoing.
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is a civil rights organization in the United States, formed in 1909 as an interracial endeavor to advance justice for African Americans.
You can read the full complaint below: