Police in Tennessee pulled over a Black couple and ultimately took their five children as they were headed to attend a family funeral.
Deonte Williams and Bianca Clayborne were on a road trip from Georgia to Chicago when they were pulled over in Coffee County, Tennessee, Essence reports.
According to the Tennessee Highway Patrol, the couple was initially stopped for driving in the left lane without actively passing and for having tinted vehicle windows, but was ultimately charged with drug possession after law enforcement officials found five grams of marijuana.
Clayborne only received a citation for the misdemeanor. However, hours later, Tennessee’s Department of Children’s Services (DCS) forcefully removed “the couple’s children – aged 7, 5, 3, 2, and a nursing 4-month old,” from their care. Clayborne said she was restrained by an officer as she reached “for her crying baby.”
After a week without their five children, the couple underwent urine drug tests that resulted in a negative for Clayborne while “Williams tested positive for THC, the active component of marijuana.” Clayborne and Williams then took a rapid hair follicle test where they tested “positive for methamphetamines, oxycodone, and fentanyl.” The couple maintained that they didn't use those substances, and the results of the test were deemed inadmissible in court as "rapid hair follicle tests are notorious for returning false positives,” according to a specialist.
The children were initially separated and placed in three different foster homes, but are now under the care of relatives in Nashville who agreed to foster them.
Courtney Teasley, the family’s attorney, held a press conference as the parents fight to get their kids back.
“Five children taken away while one of them was still breastfeeding…The father locked in a cage, having to make bond for a citable offense. Five children forced to then even be separated from one another and subject to the treatment of this abysmal system. This is torture," Teasley said.