Singer and actress Syesha Mercado, who was a 2008 American Idol finalist, is speaking out after claiming her children were kidnapped by authorities.
Mercado and her partner Tyron Deener are currently fighting to regain custody of their two children, 15-month-old son Amen’Ra and a newborn who is less than two weeks old. In an emotional press conference, Mercado said, “I went somewhere to get assistance, my baby was supposed to come home with me. We should have never been criminalized for getting assistance for something.”
Deener added, “Our life revolves around health, balance and doing what we can to guide our children. If you are a parent, if you are a grandparent, aunt, uncle, cousin, just know that we have agencies in place that have the ability to remove children without you breaking the law or abusing your niece, nephew, son, If this can happen to us, it can happen to you. We have no criminal background. We have no history with DCF. We have done nothing wrong.”
According to the Miami Herald, Mercado and her partner Tyron Deener took Amen’Ra to Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg, Florida on Feb. 26 because he wasn’t accepting fluids. Mercado and Deener were then accused of malnourishing the child. He was put into foster care by late March.
The Manatee County Sheriff’s Office claims the hospital staff said Mercado and Deener refused a B-12 intramuscular shot for the child, which they both deny.
Mercado recently gave birth to a newborn. On August 11, Mercado and Deener were stopped by police, according to the Miami Herald and video posted on her Instagram. There was reportedly a court order to turn over the baby, who was 10 days old at the time, for a checkup at the hospital.
In the disturbing video, Mercado can be heard saying through tears to police,“My baby is days old, and you’re taking my baby away from me. You have no heart. This is so wrong.”
The 34-year-old also says, “All you had to do was call the attorney. We have all the paperwork. You guys have created so much trauma. You just expect me to come outside and be like, hi, guys, you’re my friends. You’re not my friends.”
BuzzFeed reports child protective services tried to conduct a welfare check but Mercado and Deener referred them to their attorney before a visit. However, child protective services received orders signed by a judge to conduct a welfare investigation and secure possession of the child, which is why they were stopped by police.
After an Aug. 12 court hearing, the child remains in protective custody.
Donisha Prendergast, a founder of the social justice organization We Have The Right To Be Right, told the Miami Herald that due to the open case with their son, authorities “have a right to her unborn child. If they see fit, they can remove the baby.”
She also insisted the couple is being targeted because “This family has chosen to stand up for their rights. They are being targeted as an example.”
The Miami Herald reports the case involves physician Sally Smith, the head of the children protection team for Pinellas County, who “is considered one of the most powerful figures in the regional child welfare system and has long been criticized by defense attorneys, parents and child welfare employees for her aggressive approach.”
Mercado also stated at the August 17 press conference, “I am a first time mom and I’ve been deprived of holding my babies, and feeding my babies. I didn’t get to see Ra say mama for the first time. I didn’t get to see my babies meet for the first time. I didn’t get to see that and I can’t go back and redo that moment, I will never be able to go back and redo that moment.”
She continued through tears, “I’m just missing out on so many precious moments, such a precious time. I feel my daughter. I feel when she’s hungry and when she’s crying. And I, I can’t do anything. She’s not here with me. I’ve been deprived of that and I don’t know how to articulate it. It hurts so bad.”
Attorney Benjamin Crump, who is now representing the family, said in a statement, “On March 11, 2021, Manatee County Sheriff’s Office (Child Protection Specialist Section, ‘MCSO’) unjustly and forcibly removed Syesha Mercado’s (American Idol finalist) and Tyron Deener’s son, Amen’Ra Sba, from their care after they sought medical assistance for him. On August 1, 2021, Syesha gave birth to a happy, healthy baby girl. Ten days later, on August 11, 2021, a squad of unmasked officers and cars confronted and separated Syesha, Tyron and newborn in a questionable and excessive public display of police power on the side of the road while they were enroute to the CPS office.”
The statement continued, “The dehumanizing and insensitive child apprehension was captured in a 1-hour+ live stream video feed to Syesha’s social media that has sparked international outrage and galvanized support to reunite this family, accumulating nearly 3 million Instagram views. Two disproportionately forceful child removals from a loving home have caused unimaginable trauma to Syesha and family. Syesha and Tyron are prepared to fight the discrimination and oppression inflicted on them by the legal system alongside their lawyers, Derrick McBurrows, Esq. and Louis Baptiste, Esq.”
Syesha Mercado has raised over $400,000 via a GoFundMe page to cover legal bills.