US

Civil rights panel to hold hearing over Flint water crisis

In this photo taken March 21, 2016, the Flint Water Plant water tower is seen in Flint, Mich. President Barack Obama next week will make his first trip to Flint, Mich. since the impoverished city was found to have lead-tainted drinking water, the White House said Wednesday, April 27, 2016.   (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

In this photo taken March 21, 2016, the Flint Water Plant water tower is seen in Flint, Mich. President Barack Obama next week will make his first trip to Flint, Mich. since the impoverished city was found to have lead-tainted drinking water, the White House said Wednesday, April 27, 2016. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)  (The Associated Press)

The Michigan Civil Rights Commission plans its first public hearing into whether Flint residents faced discrimination during the switch to the Flint River for drinking water and subsequent lead contamination.

The hearing Thursday at Flint's Riverfront Banquet Center will include opening remarks from commission co-chairs and a comment period with preference given to city residents. Representatives from state agencies have been invited to appear, and residents will be able to respond to officials' testimony.

Before it ends, commissioners plan to discuss testimony and the potential roles of racism, environmental justice and other discrimination in the crisis.

The commission decided in January to hold hearings to examine allegations of discrimination. Flint is under a state of emergency after lead from old pipes leached into the water supply because of improper treatment.