Speaking at a campaign stop in Michigan on Monday, Sen. Bernie Sanders said that the embattled community of Flint is the “canary in the coal mine” in a country that has seemingly endless money to spend on wars in the Middle East, but cannot afford to protect its citizens or rebuild its aging infrastructure.

“It is beyond my comprehension that in the year 2016 in the United States of America we are poisoning our children,” he told a crowd of more than 9,300 people at Eastern Michigan University after meeting with a number of Flint residents earlier in the day.

“Can you imagine being a mother, seeing your own baby’s, your own child’s intellectual development, deteriorate in front of your very eyes?” he asked the crowd during a mid-afternoon rally. “That is happening all over that city.” 

The remarks were met with chants from the crowd for arrest of Governor Rick Snyder, whose resignation Sanders had previously demanded. “I’ve called for Snyder’s resignation, that’s fine,” the Vermont senator said again on Monday. “But if the local government cannot protect those children, if the state government cannot protect those children, then the federal government better get in and do the right thing.”

He also said that Flint “may be the worst example of a collapsing infrastructure, but it is not the only example.”

Sanders contrasted those who question the expense of replacing Flint’s damaged pipes and water infrastructure to the “trillions” spent on waging war in Iraq and Afghanistan. “When we went to war in Iraq, the trillions we spent there, not a problem,” Sanders said.

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