Operation: Bring RA & AST Home (Complete)
Removal State: Florida
"What Our Family is Experiencing Right Now is an INJUSTICE."- Syesha Mercado, mother
Update: The Florida Child Protection System illegally kidnapped Syesha Mercado and Tyron Deener's 10 day old child on August 11, 2021
Watch the moment this 10 day old baby was ripped from her mother's hands. As you can see in the video, Ast is perfectly healthy and she is surrounded by the love and protection of her mother, father and grandmother. At the direction of CPS, law enforcement surrounded the family on the side of the road and forcibly removed yet another child from these loving parents. When will this abuse stop?
As Amen’Ra’s mother I did my best to comply and prove I was a NON-Resistant Black Woman. But, even doing what was asked of me, my child was taken away.
It has been an agonizing 6 months since our sun, Amen’Ra, was illegally removed from our care by Mantatee County Child Protection Investigator, Danielle McCoy. We refuse to allow this nightmare to continue for 6 more months. Every second away from our baby boy becomes even more unbearable and every second symbolizes a moment in time that we have lost with our sun. We have not abused or neglected Amen’Ra therefore we have elected to go to trial to force the Manatee County Child Protection System (Manatee County CPI, Pinellas County Sheriff's Department, CPS, Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital, and the Safe Children Coalition of Manatee County) to prove with a preponderance of evidence, that we have abused or neglected our child. We are ready for trial TODAY and we can’t bear to wait until November to be heard on the deprivation of our parental rights
I refuse to let what has happened to our family go unseen and unheard. They want us to stay SILENT and trust the “process” that disproportionally affects African American families at a much higher rate. We have followed the process and spoken our truth, yet our sun remains in Manatee County custody today. This forced separation WILL have a long-lasting effect on our child’s social and emotional well-being. So, I am lifting my VOICE and calling out to anyone who wants to lift their voice with me and be a part of the change that is desperately needed. Where we live in Manatee County, the multiple entities that form the Child Protection System (CPS, GAL, Courts, Hospital) receive no oversight and are not held accountable for the destruction they continue to wreak on the lives of families.
As parents of Amen’Ra we do not have a history of abuse, neglect, or a criminal record. We are respected in our community and love working with youth and families. I am a certified Wholistic Nutritionist and have helped many in my community transition into a Wholistic lifestyle. My husband is an educator and mentor who has mentored many foster children, and advocates to keep families together. However, our proudest creation is our SUN, Amen’Ra.
Our sun was removed UNJUSTLY from a loving, happy home rooted in culture and love. The basis of the removal stems from a malicious report made by staff at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital. Manatee County CPI Officer Danielle McCoy, then filed for custody of Amen’Ra falsely alleging that Amen’Ra was in need of a B12 shot to sustain his life and that his parents refused this necessary medical treatment. Sally Smith, MD with the Child Protection Team for the Suncoast Center, fabricated the documentation needed to obtain custody of our sun by alleging that our actions toward our child constituted medical neglect.
"WE WERE MISJUDGED AND AMEN'RA WAS MISDIAGNOSED"
Simply put, I am a VEGAN, breastfeeding, first-time mother, who became pregnant, and my milk supply went down. Amen’Ra was in transition to eating MORE solids and drinking independently. We stayed proactive, did independent research backed by accredited sources, and sought medical attention from two physicians and a lactation specialist, all within a month. But he was refusing to take an adequate amount of fluids. He wanted mama's breast milk. I went to Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg, FL, in the middle of this weaning process, to get our sun extra fluids. And instead of just providing us with the service we came there for, we were met with judgment, racism, and discrimination towards our lifestyle. Our family was misjudged, and our child was MISDIAGNOSED.
There was an assumption that we were incompetent on how to feed our sun, even though we explained to the medical staff that Amen’Ra was simply weaning and had been resisting the balanced nutrition we were offering him. He was simply adjusting to the bottle that he never needed until my milk supply went down. The neurologist on Amen’Ra’s medical team explained to us that the B12 shot was NOT life or death. Amen’Ra was already receiving an increased amount of B12 from his formula and daily multi-vitamin. He was successfully weaned from the breast without the assistance of medical staff, and he was willingly drinking formula, outside the assistance from the SNS pump we had purchased and started to use before our hospital visit.
The staff at the hospital made the decision to hold us hostage even though we requested a second opinion elsewhere.
Where we live, MANATEE COUNTY, the commissioner actually declared “racism” as a state of emergency. The traumatizing removal of our sun is an example of Racism, Implicit bias, Medical Kidnapping and Legalized Kidnapping. It’s an example of ABUSE OF POWER.
The Problem: The Florida Department of Children and Families does not provide direct oversight to the Child Protective Services that are being provided to the residents of Manatee County. It’s like this in six counties in Florida: Broward, PINELLAS, Pasco, Hillsborough, Seminole and MANATEE. Pinellas Is the county our sun was removed from and Manatee is the county we live in. In four counties, including Manatee, a statute enacted in 1998 established a grant agreement giving the sheriff's offices "all responsibility" for child protective investigations and Sally Smith just so happens to be a contracted MD for Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital, who also oversees the child protection investigation team responsible for removing our sun from our care.
No Weapon Formed Against Us Shall Prosper
Amen'Ra's Parents Have a Call to Action:
"We demand an Investigation, from a third-party, into the illegal removal of Amen’Ra Sba. Further, we demand that the petition be dismissed and Amen’Ra be returned home safely to his parents immediately."
Basis for DEMAND for an INVESTIGATION:
- CPI officer Danielle McCoy coerced Syesha Mercado into signing a safety plan under mental duress and without fully explaining the safety plan.
- CPI officer Danielle McCoy failed to inform Mr. Deener and Ms. Mercado of the allegations alleged against them at first contact and failed to fully explain the investigative process.
- Mr. Deener and Ms. Mercado were not served with a copy of the order granting Manatee County custody of their child at the time of removal. Instead, the CPI Officer, Danielle McCoy, instructed law enforcement and hospital security to permanently ban these innocent parents from the hospital.
- The parents were given a zoom link and told that the court hearing was the very next morning on March 12, 2021.
- The parents did not receive the original petition granting CPS custody of their child until March 19, 2021 (via email). The same day the petition was received the CPI officer closed her investigation and communicated to the parents that she could no longer communicate with the parents without her legal representation present.
- The petition filed by Danielle McCoy is falsified and fabricated. Imminent risk did not exists on March 11, 2021 when Amen’Ra was removed.
Operation Stop CPS’s Independent Investigation
July 19, 2021- Tyron Deener and Syesha Mercado contacted Operation Stop CPS to help facilitate an immediate resolution to an issue that has wreaked havoc on the lives of their family; the illegal removal of their son Amen’Ra Sba by Florida Department of Children and Family. Operation Stop CPS provides consultation to families seeking an unbiased expert opinion of their active Child Protection case enabling them to navigate the convoluted Child Protection System.
Syesha Mercado walked into the hospital with the hopes that Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital would assist in improving the medical status of Amen’Ra. Unfortunately, on March 11, 2021, Danielle McCoy, along with other hospital staff, orchestrated a chain of events that forever changed the lives of Syesha, Tyron, and Amen’Ra.
Syesha and Tyron sought medical care for their child after they identified a problem that needed medical attention. Per a recording that will be played during a full dismissal hearing, Dr. Young, a MD at All Children’s Hospital can be heard agreeing with Ms. Mercado’s reasoning for Amen’Ra’s decreased energy. Dr. Young can be heard clearly describing Amen’Ra’s decreased energy as a result of weaning from breastfeeding. Dr. Young can also be heard confirming that Amen’Ra was not adjusting to the change well. Numerous recordings show both parents being cooperative with treatment while at the hospital and at no time does either parent refuse a medical treatment that was deemed medically necessary in order to save Amen’Ra’s life. Amen’Ra can be observed in photos and videos to be alert, ambulatory, and engaged during his hospital stay.
Neither parent refused for hospital staff to administer a B-12 shot to Amen’Ra. Ms. Mercado exercised her right to wait for the father, Mr. Deener to be present when a decision was being made. Both parents can be heard on recording clearly explaining that they did not refuse for Amen’Ra to receive a B-12 shot and can actually be heard giving permission for Amen’Ra to have the B-12 shot.
Neither Ms. Mercado or Mr. Deener have history with the Department or any criminal charges that would prohibit them from having contact with a child. The Department must first prove that probable cause existed prior to Danielle McCoy petitioning the Court for custody of Amen’Ra.
Both parents have the right to gather all the necessary information needed to make an informed decision regarding their child’s medical care. At no point did Amen’Ra’s condition become life threatening, requiring the immediate administration of the B-12 shot. Amen’Ra can be seen on videos crawling and standing up in videos taken on the days leading up to this illegal removal. Danielle McCoy introduced another threat to the parents when she introduced the Pinellas County Police Department into the lives of Ms. Mercado and Mr. Deener. There were no current safety concerns regarding Ms. Mercado being in the hospital room with her son prior to Danielle McCoy’s visit that warranted Ms. McCoy be escorted by law enforcement.
The facts and evidence will show that the recommended B-12 shot was not an emergent or medically necessary procedure for Amen’Ra Sba and the delay in the administration of the shot did not place Amen’Ra at imminent risk of death.
The court found that Danielle McCoy provided sufficient evidence by affidavit to find Amen’Ra was in immediate danger due to failure or refusal of his parents to provide for his medical needs. The court also found that it was in Amen’Ra’s best interest that his removal be required and continuation in the home of his mother and father would be contrary to his welfare. The court found that there were no less restrictive alternatives to removal at the time this order was granted.
The Department has not provided sufficient evidence to prove the existence of an emergency that warranted the issuance of an emergency order to remove this child from his parents. This Removal is ILLEGAL.
Stand With The Parents of Amen'Ra Sba by Contacting The People with the Power to End This Nightmare:
Shevaun Harris, Secretary
Florida Department of Children and Families Services
1317 Winewood Boulevard
Building 1, Room 202
Tallahassee, FL 32399
Email: [email protected]
Todd Shear, Bureau Chief
Manatee County Sheriff's Office
600 Highway 301 Boulevard West
Bradenton, FL 34205
Phone: 941-747-3011 ex.1904, 1925
Email: [email protected]
Reggie Bellamy, Commissioner, District Two
Party Affiliation: Democrat - Elected 2018
Phone: (941) 745-3702
Fax: (941) 745-3790
Email: [email protected]
The Honorable Reggie Bellamy
P.O. Box 1000
Bradenton, FL 34206-1000
To schedule appointments, follow through on concerns, or obtain County information, you may contact Commissioner Bellamy's assistant Celeste McDuffie by phone at (941) 745-3708 or email at [email protected]
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