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Sun Mar 31, 2019, 04:20 PM

VA professor Marc Edwards, once a hero of the #FlintWaterCrisis, loses lawsuit suing local activists

Virginia professor Marc Edwards, once a hero of the #FlintWaterCrisis, loses lawsuit suing local activists for $3 million

It was, perhaps, one of the most unexpected stories to spring out the tragedy of the Flint Water Crisis. Virginia Tech professor Marc Edwards, once hailed as one of the true heroes of the story, began to lose credibility with local activists like Melissa Mays. In their estimation, Edwards began to presume he spoke for the citizens of Flint and the state of Michigan at the national level, all but declared the crisis to be over even as Flint residents continued to experience rashes and other water-related issues, and even blamed an outbreak of shigella on Flint residents’ poor bathing habits.

Edwards also filed a bizarre complaint against Wayne State University researcher Shawn McElmurry, claiming McElmurry was misrepresenting himself in his research on the dramatic increase of cases of Legionnaires’ disease during the crisis and had “appropriated ideas that were not his”. This was seen by many as Edwards attacking a rival for grant funds related to the catastrophe in Flint.

Edwards’ loss of support from the activists fighting for justice in the beleaguered city culminated in an open letter sent on May 10th, 2018, addressed to “the Scientific and Engineering Communities”. Mays and the 60 signers of the letter sent it to as many groups as they could think of including administrators at Virginia Tech. In the letter, after laying out four specific complaints, they conclude with this:

Ultimately, Mr. Edwards’ focus, and the focus of any specialist claiming to “save” us, should be on our LIVES, our first-hand EXPERIENCES, our NEEDS, and on the fact that we are still suffering. Instead, Mr. Edwards goes around the country giving talks that dismiss our concerns and calls us “tribal” (https://www.swarthmore.edu/news-events/listen-engineer-marc-edwards-truth-seeking-age-tribalism, https://nicholas.duke.edu/about/events/truth-seeking-age-tribalism-lessons-flint-water-crisis-marc-edwards). Shockingly, Mr. Edwards has gone as far as to declare that the Flint Water Crisis was over 2 years ago (in 2016). We believe it would be best that Mr. Edwards now leaves our town alone. We need an end to his disruptive presence so that we can finally clean up the mess he has left behind him, focus on healing the rifts he has created between residents, and try to address the real problems plaguing us. Mr. Edwards’ choice to initiate drama distracts from the real suffering in Flint and needs to stop NOW.

We are reaching out to you, key representatives of the scientific and engineering communities who keep awarding and rewarding Mr. Edwards for his behavior, because we need full protection from Mr. Edwards immediately. We also need an immediate investigation that puts OUR voices at the center and demands evidence for all claims made by Mr. Edwards. We ask for a committee that includes academics, professionals, and Environmental Justice leaders who have expertise in abuses of professional power against poisoned communities like Flint.

Edwards responded first by using his blog FlintWaterStudy.org to refute the letter. The blog, which started out as a way to keep people apprised of the work he and his team were doing in Flint, began to devolve into rather erratic and defensive posts.

Read more: https://www.eclectablog.com/2019/03/virginia-professor-marc-edwards-once-a-hero-of-the-flintwatercrisis-loses-lawsuit-suing-local-activists-for-3-million.html

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