#ArrestCPS National Day of Action hits nine cities

“Another black child was kidnapped today!” was the rallying call that the African National Women’s Organization (ANWO) put out on August 17. This organized the first national response to the colonial state-sponsored kidnapping of African children by agencies that work under the guise of child protection.

Earlier that week, a video had gone viral on the internet showing the kidnapping of former American Idol finalist Syesha Mercado’s 10-day- old newborn, Ast Sba. Mercado’s first child, Amen’Ra, was kidnapped just months earlier when the colonial State accused her of malnutrition after she went to a Florida hospital seeking help with weaning him off breastmilk.

The video sent shockwaves throughout the country, inciting celebrities and other notable people to respond on her behalf. This resulted in the return of her newborn, Ast Sba. Her other child, Amen’Ra, is still in the State’s custody.

At the same time, ANWO’s #ArrestCPS campaign received a call from another woman in Florida who had her children taken, as well as another woman in California who had her children taken.

Months earlier, ANWO’s #ArrestCPS campaign rallied for Aniya Butler, an African woman in Phoenix, AZ who has been fighting to regain custody of her daughter for the last year.

Unfortunately, these women are not as well known as Mercado and have slightly more complicated cases that do not get the kind of support to garner unquestionable defense.

Although Mercado’s case was in the forefront, something needed to happen to give voice to the many more working class African women who have felt the cold hand of the so-called Child Protection Services (CPS) agencies around the country.

ANWO calls for mass demonstrations

On August 20, ANWO met with everyone who answered the call to protect African women and children and to expose the parasitic nature of CPS. We left that call with six cities uniting to mobilize and three more signing on afterward.

What resulted were demonstrations in front of CPS and Family Court locations in nine U.S. cities. This is the first anti-CPS national mobilization focused on highlighting the significant ongoing devastating impact of the kidnapping of African children, the un-mothering of African mothers, and the financial motivation behind the commodification of our children.

On August 27, armed with banners and placards, we protested. Some places started as early as 9 am and others as late as 4 pm. We organized impacted parents in Delaware, St. Louis, Portland, and Philadelphia.

CPS you can’t hide! We charge you with genocide!

In Washington, D.C., where CPS operates as the Child and Family Services Agency (CFSA), the intended isolation of families is glaring.

Located in the D.C. government building in a gentrified section of the Southeast, the entrance of CFSA is located separate from the main entrance on the side of the building. There is hardly any car traffic or foot traffic. The building is flanked by Interstate 395 in the back and a dog park in the front.

No one is a witness to the tragedy that happens in that building. That is until we showed up. People who worked in other parts of the building didn’t even know that CFSA was there. People we spoke to on the street or driving by in cars didn’t know that the agency existed in their community.

In San Diego, social service workers responded to the protest, distancing themselves from the act of kidnapping children. One person stated, “I just help people get food stamps,” and “I don’t think they should take these children.”

In Philadelphia, where CPS operates as the Department of Human Services (DHS), the building is located on a highly visible corner on a heavily trafficked street. It is a site where parents lose custody of their children and where they come to have supervised visits. Our presence garnered support from the unfortunate victims of DHS and passersby alike. We also drew the attention of the police. They attempted to force us off the public sidewalk but we won the struggle and stayed put.

ANWO must continue to organize and build dual and contending power!

Our work on this issue did not begin on August 27. We have been organizing against the State-sponsored kidnapping of African children since 2017. We’ve met with mothers, fathers and grandparents in the U.S. and Europe who hoped to liberate their children from the State. We’ve helped them with planning and advocacy, but more is needed. We can’t take on the counterinsurgent entity of CPS by fighting individual cases alone. It requires a web of organizers doing
ongoing work to defend and protect the rights of African parents and children through policy, and by creating dual and contending power institutions that replace the role of the State.

The #ArrestCPS campaign is continuing to grow. We will continue protesting in front of CPS offices in different cities. We are planning our October 24 #ArrestCPS Organizing Conference and we are building a movement with similar organizations doing this work. In addition to as- sisting families who need guidance on how to get their children home.

We appreciate the offers of support that have already come in. We are looking for more supporters to work locally and on our national committees. We call on you to help us build infrastructures of defense and repair for parents victimized by CPS. Send your interest to arrestcps@anwouhuru.org.

CPS you can’t hide!

We charge you with genocide!

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