flint water crisis anonymous
The top of a water tower is seen at the Flint, Michigan, water plant, Jan. 13, 2016. Reuters/Rebecca Cook

A hacker activist group affiliated with the shadowy collective Anonymous has promised to take up the cause of Michigan residents grappling with Flint’s dirty water supply, a problem that state and local officials knew about for months. Anonymous’ #IntelGroup, which has gone after elected officials, police departments and hate groups following public scandals and tragedies, set its sights on Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder and leaders in Flint, calling for criminal charges against those involved.

In a statement released Wednesday, #IntelGroup said Snyder should be charged with manslaughter as emails reveal he knew about Flint’s water problems for more than a year. "He is now going to simply be shown the error of his evil ways," a narrator said in a video released with the group's statement. The video message also promised other state and local officials “will not go unpunished” for the town’s ongoing water crisis.

Flint, a city of about 100,000 that is majority African-American, has been plagued with financial problems for years. The city in April 2014 began sourcing its water supply from the contaminated Flint River. Soon after, residents began to complain the water was dirty, heavily tainted with lead and unsuitable for home use. Children and the elderly are most at risk for adverse health effects related to consuming the contaminated water, media reports said.

The water crisis has become the subject of multiple lawsuits against the state, with many residents alleging officials brushed off residents’ early complaints. #IntelGroup said it will vindicate the victims and amplify the severity of their plight. But it remained unclear how exactly the hackers would go after the responsible authorities. In the past, Anonymous has released personal information, including home address, phone numbers and Social Security numbers of its targets.

“We will amplify your voice where the mainstream media will surely fail you, as it has in the past,” the group’s statement read. “Governor Snyder and his cronies have brought pain, suffering and possible death to the people of Flint. … We do not forget. The people responsible for this crises will be held accountable. Every wrongdoing will be rectified.”

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