Authorities take second baby from ‘American Idol’ star Syesha Mercado, prompting outcry
Singer and actress Syesha Mercado with her young son Amen’Ra, who was placed in a foster family after her and her partner Tyron Deener, took him to All Children’s Hospital for care.
Former American Idol finalist Syesha Mercado is now fighting for the return of two children who were removed by Florida authorities within the past six months.
On Wednesday morning, the Manatee County Sheriff’s deputies surrounded a car carrying Mercado, their ten-day-old baby, and partner Tyron Deener. The authorities then took care of the baby to be taken to the hospital.
Deener broadcast the almost hour-long encounter on Instagram Live. The video shows several sheriff vehicles nearby with flashing lights and two proxies giving the couple an injunction to hand over the baby to the hospital for examination.
Mercado and Deener told agents the baby had been seen by doctors the day before. They also said they were walking the baby to the sheriff’s office at 8 a.m. on Wednesday and were told there was no one to be reached.
After a trial Thursday morning, the baby was still in protective custody, according to Donisha Prendergast, a founder of We Have the Right to be Right, an organization that advocates a variety of social justice issues.
The background: Syesha Mercado is fighting for custody of her son because of malnutrition
For more than three months, the couple have been working for the return of their 15-month-old son Amen’Ra, who was taken into care after a routine visit to the hospital. The couple became concerned about malnutrition after Mercado’s breast milk began to run dry and the boy stopped accepting other liquids.
They took him to the Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg on February 26th. Almost two weeks later, the St. Petersburg police took the parents out of the hospital for trespassing. When the boy was released in late March, he was placed in foster homes on allegations of malnutrition.
According to the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office, medical staff reported that Mercado and Deener refused to give an intramuscular B-12 injection as recommended by the hospital, a claim that Mercado and Deener vehemently deny.
The story goes on
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Read the full long-term care survey: Florida took thousands of children from families but then failed to protect them.
Mercado said at the time that she was never informed that her son was released, and child welfare officials did not speak to family members about possible placement.
While Mercado was still involved in the legal battle over custody of her son, she gave birth to a baby girl. MPs said during the taped confrontation on Wednesday that the couple failed to inform authorities about the child.
Deener can be heard in the Instagram video that due to previous situations, they asked that all inquiries about Mercado and the baby be directed to their attorney and “they didn’t.” The lawyer was seen crossing the street as the stalemate unfolded.
Before clerks could take the girl away, she started screaming, and Mercado breastfed her and provided the authorities with a bottle of breast milk. Mercado burst into tears as she carried the baby to another vehicle.
“You have no heart. My baby is days old and you are taking my baby away from me,” yelled Mercado when a clerk repeatedly asked her to put the baby in the car. “My baby is healthy. My baby is happy.”
Mercado has been open on social media since Florida authorities took her son away as she struggled to get her children home.
“They stole our baby from us … this great injustice affects not just MY family, but the whole family. Some suffer in silence. But we are NOT being silenced by this act of terrorism and this injustice, ”wrote Mercado on Instagram last week when her son, Amen’Ra, is being taken. “It makes us stronger, wiser and more resilient.”
“Help us contribute to our legal fund,” she wrote on Twitter and shared a GoFundMe link. “It takes a TEAM and a BIG backing to compete against a BIG system. Thank you for your support. We thank you all.”
As of Wednesday, the family had raised more than $ 194,659 on a GoFundMe page from a $ 200,000 goal to help cover legal bills.
Many on social media have also come together behind family to offer support and share their story.
Twitter user @_MissSith wrote, “I’ve been so broken with this since reading your story yesterday morning, and I just want this family to be reunited with their baby.”
“To all Twitter friends, please pay attention to this story. Get in touch and be sure to help. This can happen to any parent in the US,” tweeted @TeddAbramson.
Syesha Mercado with the 2015 Sarasota Orchestra in Outfield Concert at Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota.
Pattern of aggressive removal
Mercado graduated from Booker High School’s Visual and Performing Arts Center in Sarasota, Florida, in 2005 and was the third finalist in season seven of American Idol in 2008, behind David Archuleta and winner David Cook. She later toured with the musical “Dreamgirls” and appeared in the touring and Broadway companies of “The Book of Mormon” on.
On May 9, 2008, which was proclaimed for Syesha Mercado Day, she received a key to her hometown of Sarasota.
Prendergast said she believes the “couple will be targeted”.
“This family chose to stand up for their rights,” she said. “You are being targeted as an example.”
Prendergast said that in an open case like Mercado’s, authorities “have a right to their unborn child. If they see fit, they can remove the baby. ”Prendergast said she advised Mercado to“ stay as tight as possible ”despite the high emotions in the situation.
The Herald-Tribune, part of the USA TODAY Network, reported in May that the Mercado case involves doctor Sally Smith, who heads the child protection team for Pinellas County.
Smith looks after almost every suspicious injury case at All Children’s Hospital. She is considered one of the most powerful figures in regional child welfare and has long been criticized by defense lawyers, parents and youth welfare officials for her aggressive behavior.
In some cases, she saw injuries that other doctors did not see.
The USA TODAY Network previously reviewed hundreds of Smith’s cases as part of an investigation into Florida’s child welfare system and identified more than a dozen cases of indictments being dropped, parents acquitted, or caregivers credibly pleading innocence but still suffering irreversible harm to life and reputation. Smith previously denied “any problems with my work”.
Prendergast said the police brutality helped highlight the injustices in the system regarding blacks.
“Will Ra ever be able to tell you what he’s going through?” She said. “Our children do not have video cameras to show how they are being treated.”
This article originally appeared on the Sarasota Herald-Tribune: Syesha Mercado: Newborn baby of ‘American Idol’ star kidnapped by authorities