Morgan Freeman narrates Clinton ad that mentions Flint

Chad Livengood
Detroit News Lansing Bureau

Actor Morgan Freeman narrates a new TV ad for Democrat Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign that invokes images of Flint’s water contamination crisis and features Clinton speaking at an African-American church earlier this month.

“She speaks for a city poisoned by indifference,” Freeman says in the ad as images of Flint’s water tower and a jug of brownish water flash on the screen.

The TV ad then cuts away to a clip of Clinton speaking Feb. 7 at House of Prayer Missionary Baptist Church about the city’s water emergency.

“We need action now,” she says.

The ad, which is airing nationally on cable television channels, is the latest effort by the Clinton campaign to highlight Flint’s lead-contaminated water as an issue in the presidential campaign.

Clinton has railed against Republican Gov. Rick Snyder’s administration for not initially responding to months of complaints from Flint residents about the taste, smell and discoloration of Flint’s water after the city starting using river water in April 2014 to save money while under state-controlled emergency management.

Clinton’s campaign has posted advertising-like videos of the Flint speech on social media, but this ad marks the first time it’s using the Flint water crisis in a TV ad.

Republicans contend Clinton is using the crisis in Flint to score political points in her campaign against Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders for the Democratic nomination. Sanders has talked about the need to rebuild Flint’s damaged water pipeline infrastructure on the campaign trial.

Sanders and Clinton launched their first TV ads in Michigan late last week.

The new Clinton ad pairs the crisis in Flint — Michigan’s second-largest majority minority city — with images of Trayvon Martin, Dontre Hamilton and Sandra Bland — African-Americans whose deaths have triggered national tensions between blacks and the criminal justice system.

Martin, of Sanford, Florida, was fatally shot in 2012 by a neighborhood watch volunteer, George Zimmerman, in a case that fanned a debate over racial profiling and controversial “stand your ground” self-defense laws.

Hamilton was unarmed in April 2012 when he was shot to death by a white Milwaukee police officer who never faced charges in a controversial use of deadly force case.

Bland, a 28-year-old Texas woman, was found dead in a Texas jail cell in July 2015 after a routine traffic stop escalated into a violent confrontation with a police officer caught on tape by a police car dash camera video.

The ad includes an audio clip from Clinton giving a speech saying: “Sandra Bland did nothing wrong.”

Clinton “makes their mothers’ fight for justice her own,” Freeman says in the ad.

Bland’s and Martin’s mothers will campaign for Clinton in South Carolina this week ahead of the Palmetto State’s Saturday primary, according to the Clinton campaign.