Police have arrested a couple in Tennessee. Then they took their children | Tennessee

Almost a month ago, Bianca Clayborne, Deonte Williams and their five children were on their way from Georgia to Chicago for the funeral of Clayborne’s uncle when a highway patrol officer stopped them in Manchester, Tennessee .

That moment – about 60 miles from Nashville – has since turned their lives upside down as Clayborne and Williams try to regain custody of their children after claiming state authorities ‘kidnapped’ them because of a trace amounts of marijuana in the car, the Tennessee Lookout first reported.

The separation described by Clayborne and Williams fits into a historical pattern of U.S. child welfare services dividing poor, black, and Indigenous families, particularly on the basis of alleged neglect and abuse, fueling disparities between who can remain a family and who doesn’t.

“I just have to believe that if my clients looked different or had different backgrounds they would have just gotten a quote and told you to keep that stuff away from the kids while you’re in that condition and they’d be on their way. said Jamaal Boykin, one of the family’s attorneys, according to the Tennessee Lookout.

In her damning book, Torn Apart: How the Child Welfare System Destroys Black Families – and How Abolition Can Build a Safer World, Dorothy E Roberts, a law professor at the University of Pennsylvania, described how the American child welfare system Childhood historically punished families — especially black ones — for living in poverty while accused of neglect or unable to provide for their children’s housing, health care and other basic needs.

Roberts argues that racist stereotypes influence how child welfare workers and policymakers approach investigations of families of color, finding that one in 10 black children are forcibly removed from their families and placed in foster family when he is an adult. She wrote in an excerpt that more than half of black American children would face a child protection investigation by age 18, while less than a third of white children would. .

In the case of Clayborne and Williams, the soldier stopped his car on Feb. 17 for having dark tinted windows and driving in the left lane without actively passing, according to citations reviewed by the Lookout. The officer searched their car and found five grams of marijuana, a misdemeanor. He arrested Williams and took him to a local jail. Clayborne followed, as her children wept.

As Clayborne awaited bail for Williams, an officer restrained her while state officials took custody of her five children, including her four-month-old baby. Courtney Teasley, an attorney representing the family since late February, said Clayborne and Williams’ case reflected “how government systems that say they are there to protect have the ability to use those same protections to oppress.”

Calling the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services “appalling,” Teasley said his clients’ children are now at risk of being kicked out of Georgia “to a school they know nothing about.”

“We already know that… [most] the hurt kids are the black kids,” Teasley added. “To shed some light on this [shows] what is being done to blacks in real time. This leads to mass incarceration and all that goes with it: generational trauma, going from school to prison. »

A lawyer for Bianca Clayborne & Deonte Williams, the black Georgia couple whose 5 young children were taken away by Children’s Services after a misdemeanor traffic stop in rural Tennessee, says the agency has filed lawsuits against her for speaking out https://t. co/A3XmVntLqL

— Anita Wadhwani (@anitawadhwani) March 17, 2023

The state’s Department of Children’s Services eventually alleged that Clayborne and Williams’ children were being abused to get an emergency order to take them away. The removal was made despite court records showing that a state agent brought in after the arrest “discovered that only the father had been arrested,” the Lookout reported. Yet the same day, the agency received a court order to remove the children from Clayborne and Williams.

Almost a week later, at their first hearing in juvenile court, the couple were asked to take drug tests, which yielded mixed results.

Urine drug tests came back positive for Williams but negative for Clayborne. Rapid hair follicle follow-up tests were then ordered, coming back positive for fentanyl and oxycodone for both. Both deny taking the substances, and a local treatment court administrator told the Lookout that such tests are generally inadmissible as evidence.

Teasley said it’s “blatant” that someone’s children are being taken away based on an inadmissible test. “How many people have seen this happen to them?” she says.

In an interview with the Lookout, Clayborne said she couldn’t believe officers surrounded her for six hours and blocked her from reaching her nursing baby. She remembers one of them saying, “Don’t touch him. He is being taken from you.

“I’m breastfeeding – they haven’t given me anything,” Clayborne told the investigative newspaper. “They just ran off with my kids.”

Teasley says the couple have traveled back and forth from their home in Georgia to see their children in Nashville, where they are in foster care. Clayborne battled the aftermath of her inability to breastfeed her baby and ended up in hospital suffering from panic attacks.

“They’re on the road all the time now [to] see the kids and stay with them as long as they can,” Teasley said, adding that the children sobbed every time their parents left. “It’s getting worse because it looks like they’ll never get their kids back.”

Meanwhile, “the kids … don’t know anything except ‘I want to go home,'” Teasley said.

A hearing in the case is scheduled for Monday.

Teasley added that she risked face retaliation just for talking to the media about the case. On Friday, she said the attorney for the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services had filed a motion “for sanctions and remand for prosecution” against her. The motion alleges that Teasley breached confidentiality provisions, which it denies.

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