A Georgia couple killed their five children aged 7, 6, 3, 2 and 4 months after a traffic stop by the Tennessee Highway Patrol that civil rights groups called them “targeted.” She says she is grappling with the “unspeakable pain” of losing custody. “
“I’m used to waking up every two to three hours when it’s time to breastfeed, go to school, wake the kids up, go to school, go to the bus stop. “We see the bus when it’s time to come from school. It’s hard when our kids can’t get off the bus.” ”
More than a month ago, on February 17th, the children’s father, Deonte Williams, was pulled over by a Tennessee State Police officer. on suspicion of a traffic violationThe family had moved from their home near Atlanta to Chicago for a relative’s funeral. Police say he was stopped because he had dark windows and was driving in his left lane without actively passing. A state trooper searched the car, saying it smelled of marijuana, and claimed to have found 5 grams.
According to court records, The Tennessee Department of Child Welfare approached Claiborne’s car in the parking lot of the Coffee County Justice Center after he was arrested. They tried to get the mother to submit a urine test, but it didn’t work. Wait in the parking lot with your child.
“The mother became very rebellious and locked herself and the children in the car.” Entries in court records“Cop Crabtree then placed spike strips around the vehicle to keep the mother from leaving the property.”
Hours later, as Claiborne was sitting in the judicial center awaiting Williams’ release, DCS officials approached her and took her children away. The agency said the children were “dependent and neglected” and that “dramatic alternatives to removal were available.”
The couple were charged with simple possession of a controlled substance, a misdemeanor, in Tennessee on February 21, according to Coffee County court records.
according to Tennessee Lookoutthe parents were asked to submit a urine drug test when they appeared before a juvenile judge in Coffee County. It tested positive for THC, the active ingredient.Claiborne tested negative for THC.
Authorities then amended the allegations on February 24, arguing that the children should be considered “severely abused.” A rapid hair follicle test came back positive from both parents for methamphetamine, oxycodone, and fentanyl.Clayborne and Williams deny using these drugs. Coffee County court administrators told The Lookout that rapid hair follicle tests are not admissible in court. The fact that they haven’t, he said, could lead to “too many false positives.”
“States should never rely on instant results,” says Greg Bowen, owner of Nashville-based ReliaLab Test. Said Observatory(Bowen was not involved in this particular case.)
The couple called the National Action Network (NAN), a civil rights organization founded by Reverend Al Sharpton. NAN, an organization that promotes the right to equal justice under the law, reached out to several lawyers for help when it found out why the children were being abducted.
“I met with Williams after the crisis meeting and knew the policy and the law, so I quickly realized there was a problem,” NAN education adviser Christina Luster told Yahoo News. Told.
A state trooper who allegedly stopped the family because of the tinted windows, Luster said, “in that moment became the judge, the jury, and potentially the destroyer of the family. It’s too much power to hold, so we started actively seeking legal help.”
According to Luster, the NAN began investigating the Tennessee Code and came across “vague and ambiguous language” in the edited law. Child welfare. It was then that she turned to a subsection of the law that said her parents could remove a child for immoral reasons.
“There’s a nexus here that hands over one thing to another, a well-oiled machine, and they know how to target certain people,” said Rasta.
“So I asked where their tickets were. If you committed a crime, I need to understand, were you ‘mirrandized’?” Said referring to the act of reading a person who has been. “[Williams] They told Bianca to follow them to the station. It was just a ticket. But when she got there, DCS was waiting. As such, they had a significant lack of understanding of their rights. That is the purpose of the Fifth and Sixth Amendments. “
Parents are limited to using text messages, phone calls, or iPads to communicate with their children. We do this while traveling to and from Georgia and Tennessee for visits and complying with court orders such as submitting drug tests.
The children are now in foster care, and have been placed in multiple homes since February and were placed in the care of family friend Cheryl Hough of Nashville on March 1. Huff was speaking to Clayborne on behalf of the NAN. After reporting, Hough voluntarily went through the process of obtaining temporary custody of the children with DCS.
Huff enrolls her two oldest children in schools in Tennessee and cares for her younger children at home. She laments that her transition will be very difficult as she adjusts to her new lifestyle of having a younger child in the house where she lives with her husband and her 16-year-old foster child. was She also said that DCS brought the children to her without knowing anything about the case details, minimum necessities and formulas for infants who had stomach problems. The child has asthma and must use a respirator. But former daycare providers say they make the most of their traumatic experiences to protect their mental health.
“Kids will wake up and cry and say they want their mom or that their mom and dad will pick them up today,” Hough explained to Yahoo News. It’s a matter of interest.”
“These kids are so smart, you have to be careful with your words. “Kids ask if I’m a new foster parent. I say, ‘No, I’m your cousin.'” She is also asked if she should return to DCS. I say, ‘No, we’re all going to stay here until Mom and Dad come pick us up. ’”
DCS told Yahoo News that the judge in the case issued a verbal restraining order to the parties involved on March 20.
“We will comply with the court order,” DCS said in an email.
Luster claims the gag order was issued because of an outpouring of public support. Civil rights groups such as the NAN and NAACP have filed formal complaints against the state of Tennessee and called on the public to initiate a federal investigation into the state’s legal system.
“One thing that ordinary citizens can do is file a formal complaint with the Office of Civil Rights if they believe a family member has been discriminated against,” Luster explained. “They can do that on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services virtual website. They have a Civil Rights Administration complaint form.”
“Organizations, church community leaders, and local businesses can also request that the Department of Justice and the U.S. Department of Education investigate and enforce compliance and bring the issue to a judge’s ethics review board. If judges act unethically and are outside the law, they need to be reviewed.Citizens concerned about abuse of power by DCS should call their legislators and ask them to We need to be empowered, researched, demanded to make demands,” he continued.
Democratic Senator from Tennessee He demanded the return of the couple’s children. Senator London Lamar told reporters on March 17 that the state’s actions were “ridiculous” and an “abuse of power”, explaining: “Borderline discrimination.However, state prosecutors rebutted this, stating that police officers “will ensure that minors are adequately protected by contacting law enforcement and alerting the Department of Child Services whenever a parent or child is detained.” He said that he had fulfilled his legal obligation to “request to do so.” of the situation. “
Since testing, DCS attorneys have filed a series of motions Coffee County Juvenile Court sought indictment and sanctions against the parents and their attorneys, alleging the couple violated the court’s confidentiality rules. called like “Retaliation” on Twitter — Efforts to stop her from sharing that Tennessee is “repressing black people under the guise of secrecy.”
“Certainly there are other facts and circumstances that defendants have chosen not to disclose in the course of their efforts to hear this matter in the forums of public opinion and in the political arena. We hear only in court,” said District Attorney Craig Northcott.
“I’m a great mother,” said Claiborne, a stay-at-home mom who entered college to study child development. “I am drawn there for something I am not. It is a defamation of my character. I know there are.”
“I want the world to know that these kinds of situations still occur,” Williams told Yahoo News. “As a family, all we can do is lead by example or be at the forefront of change.”
The parents’ efforts to regain custody remain in limbo pending the results of the latest expedited follicular drug test that was ordered. But if the tests come back negative, DCS and the judge both agree that the children could be released into mother-father custody as early as this week.