Senate Democratic Leader Sen. Raumesh Akbari (D-Memphis) and Sen. London Lamar (D-Memphis), chairwoman of the Senate Democratic Caucus, issued statements urging the Department of Children’s Services to reunite five children with their parents.
Bianca Clayborne and Deonte Williams were on Interstate 24 heading to a family funeral in Chicago — kids asleep in the back of the car — when a Tennessee Highway Patrol officer pulled them over for “dark tint and traveling in the left lane while not actively passing.”
During the traffic stop, Williams was charged for simple possession of marijuana. While Clayborne waited for Williams’ release, DCS workers forcibly removed the five children from Clayborne. Despite desperate pleas from their parents, the department has now had the children in state custody for over a month.
“Our goal should be to keep families together because babies and young children belong with their parents,” said Senator Raumesh Akbari.
“It is outrageous that the state forcefully separated Bianca Clayborne, a breastfeeding mother, and Deonte Williams from their kids and have allowed this to continue.
“The state exercised extreme and flawed judgment in taking their children and it seems they’ve doubled down on this poor decision.
“No family is perfect, but an imperfection, like a simple marijuana charge, is no excuse for tearing a family apart. The state is supposed to support reunification. If they don’t have a better reason, they must immediately return these five children to their parents.”
“I am demanding that the Department of Children’s Services and the Coffee County justice system release the children of Bianca Clayborne and Deonte Williams back to their parents,” said Senator London Lamar.
“It is unacceptable abuse of power for state officials to rip five children away from their parents over a misdemeanor possession charge when DCS cannot even take care of the kids they already have in custody.
“It’s also ridiculous that a month later DCS is still fighting to keep these children away from their parents over weed, which is legal in the state where their family was driving for a funeral.
“The Department of Children’s Services and Coffee County need to do what is right and return these children to their family before any more harm is done.”