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From: Michael Moore's newsletter [MICHAELMOORE@LISTSERV.AOL.COM] on

behalf of

Sent: Wednesday, March 01, 2000 4:11 PM


Subject: Flint, Again -- A message from Michael Moore


Dear friends,

I tried to write this letter to you last night, but the level of

sadness in me would not allow me to sit at this keyboard

and compose these words.

How much more can my hometown take? How much more

do the people we love have to suffer? How much? How

much?? HOW MUCH!

Isn't it enough that tens of thousands of lives in Flint have

been wrecked, destroyed by the greed of General Motors?

Isn't it enough that my wife and I and tens of thousands of

others who love our home -- love it more than any of you

will ever know -- have had to leave Flint in the past 20 years

to find work far from family and friends? Isn't it enough

that Flint suffers the highest or near-highest per capita rates

of murder, rape and theft in the nation?

What else do the people of Flint have to go through while

the rest of country mouths the propaganda of the evening

news claiming "the economy is the best ever!"? The top 10

percent just get richer and richer and the next 30 percent of

you keep the CNBC stock ticker on your screens all day

and toss out all sections of the daily paper but the pages

that tell you how well your portfolio did yesterday.

I thought there was nothing else left for Flint to go through.

Like Job, it seemed that every imaginable sorrow had been

visited upon its people. I guess I was wrong.

I look up at the TV and a helicopter is hovering over a

school while the words "Buell Elementary" flash on the


Buell? Buell! At the end of "The Big One," when I twisted

Nike chairman Phil Knight's arm to match my $10,000

contribution to the kids of Flint -- that $20,000 went to

Buell Elementary.

Yesterday, a 6-year old boy brought a semi-automatic gun

to that very school in Flint and killed a 6-year old girl in

their first grade classroom.

Six years old.

A little girl whose name was Kayla Rolland.

That's about the only thing the national media got right

about the story. Twenty satellite trucks now ring the school,

but with all that technology, they cannot find the way to

bring you the truth. Of course, they have been spun and

snookered by the local officials in Flint who try to hide

from the responsibility they share in Flint's destruction any

time a tragedy like this happens.

You have probably heard that this school shooting took

place out in the "suburbs," in a place called "Mount Morris

Township"... "somewhere near Flint."

There is no such place.

Buell Elementary, where the shooting took place, is in the

Flint Beecher school district, the poorest school district in

Genesee County, Michigan, and perhaps the poorest in the

entire state. Eighty-two percent of its children, according to

the federal government, live below the "official" poverty

level (meaning the number of kids in total poverty is even


Beecher is Flint's dump. It is where you go when you have

nothing left to your name. 60 percent black, 40 percent

white. No municipality in Genesee County wants to govern

Beecher, so it exists as a No Man's Land on the northern

city limits of Flint. It covers a small portion of two different

townships (one of which is where my wife Kathleen is

from). But folks, when you hear the word "township" used

in the case of Beecher, those of us from Flint mean it in the

way the word was used in South Africa. Buell Elementary

in the Flint Beecher school district has a Flint address and a

Flint phone number, but the black officials from Flint on

the news yesterday tried to point out that "this school really

isn't in Flint!" It is amazing how deep oppression takes its

roots when even black leaders find themselves in bed with

General Motors and, like Peter in the Garden of

Gethsemane, repeatedly deny that people of their own race

have anything to do with them.

Poor, poor Flint. The media blowhards babble on about

how "this is the youngest child to kill another child in a

school shooting" and the few anchors who started to look

at their own helicopter shots showing the school sitting in

the middle of a bombed-out neighborhood commented that

"this is actually the first of all these school shootings we've

had lately that has taken place in an 'urban' school." Wow.

Two records for Flint in one day.

When I was a senior in high school, the assistant principal

of Beecher High -- the first black man in the area to hold

such a position -- became despondent over his inability to

quell the racial disturbances in the school, so one night he

went home, wrote a heartfelt letter to the kids in the district,

then put a gun in his mouth and blew his brains out. As my

friend, Jeff Gibbs, who went to Beecher, told me last night,

it's sad that the only two times that Beecher receives the

attention of the nation is because of a gun. (Jeff's letter to

me can be read in full by going to

I heard from relatives last night that the family of the little

boy who killed the girl had been evicted from their home

just last week. Evicted, I wonder, by Deputy Fred, who 10

years after "Roger & Me," still spends his day at the behest

of Flint's landlords.

Homeless and fatherless (his dad is in jail as 30 percent of

all black men in America will be at some point in their

lives), the boy was staying at his uncle's. In the house were

guns, as there are in virtually every home in this devastated

and desperate area. The gun, that the boy found and took to

school, was not some "junk gun," the kind that Al Gore

promises to get rid of. It was a gun with a brand name

bought initially at a sporting goods store (I wonder, were

the bullets bought at K-Mart, as they were at Columbine?).

How do Mr. McCain and Mr. Bush feel this morning? Just

seven days prior, John McCain's "Straight Talk Express"

bus rolled past Beecher on I-75, but it didn't stop. It rolled

on down near Ann Arbor where McCain blasted those who

seek gun control, saying that he opposes ANY ban on ANY

assault weapon, and opposes ANY waiting period for a

background check when one purchases a gun. Mr. Bush

never stopped in Flint either.

I guess we all feel sorta proud that they both avoid us like

the plague. There is not -- and has not for nearly thirty

years -- been a single Republican state or federal

representative elected from Flint. Another reason, I

suppose, for our neglect and punishment. But we're proud

of how we've made it almost a crime to support a

Republican in Flint, proud of the fact we elected the

country's first black mayor in the '60s, proud that we voted

for Jesse Jackson 9 to 1 over Michael Dukakis in 1988

(and 4 to 1 for Jesse in Flint's all-white suburbs). So I

guess the gun crazy presidential candidates made the right

decision to take their hate-filled campaigns elsewhere. And,

in the end, I was proud to see that the people of Michigan,

like the people in Minnesota, have kept their sense of

humor intact as a way to express their sense of outrage. 51

percent of those who showed up to vote in the Republican

primary were Democrats and Independents! They took the

time to go the polls to plunk down for McCain just to, in

good ol' working class fashion, stick it to the Bush with the

silver spoon in his mouth.

I'll end by repeating what I have said many times before --

the handguns have to go. 16,000 gun murders last year in

the US and 15,500 were killed by someone they knew

(husband, boyfriend, neighbor) or by someone at work.

Approximately 500 were killed by a stranger who broke

into their home and 300 of those were killed by their OWN

gun. Those are the facts. Easy access to guns by a species

that often responds irrationally and with intense emotions is

a lethal combination. Great Britain, a nation of 60 million

people with a violent history of conquering the world at the

barrel of a gun and now full of drunks and hotheads who

eat up violent American movies and TV shows -- last year

they killed a grand total of 12 -- that's TWELVE! -- of their

own citizens with handguns. That's because handguns are

TOTALLY banned. Let the hunters keep their rifles after a

serious background check, but the handguns, whose only

purpose is to take a human life, must go. The Brits have

done it, the Australians have done it, the Canadians have

done it. Even New York City mostly did it -- and the

number of murders there has dropped from 2,200 a year to


We look like a bunch of idiots. Let's do something about it

and about the poverty in which so many kids still dwell.

We have never been in a better place to make it happen than

right now.

What are we waiting for? Another Kayla Rolland? God

help you if you ever have to live in a township that no town

will claim and is forgotten by everyone else as soon as the

next gun nut enters a McDonald's and a Burger king on the

same day. Fried or flame-broiled, it's all our own unique

American Hell.

On behalf of the six of us from Flint who work on The

Awful Truth,

Michael Moore

P.S. -- If you would like to contribute to the Kayla Rolland

Memorial Fund please send donations to:

Kayla Rolland Memorial Fund,

c/o Calvary Assembley of God

2518 Delaware Avenue

Flint, MI 48506