A Traffic Stop Escalated Into This Family Being Separated For Weeks

black woman with baby on her back
Zain Murdock
May 25, 2023

It all started when police pulled Bianca Clayborne and Deonte Williams over for tinted windows and driving in the left lane. But when they arrested Williams over five grams of marijuana, a traffic stop turned into a fight with Tennessee’s Department of Children’s Services (DCS).

Even though only Williams was arrested and Claybourne was still breastfeeding, their five young children were placed into state custody. Then came the results of a drug test not conducted by trained technicians and notorious for presenting false positives for methamphetamines and opioids.

And when it came back positive, DCS filed an abuse claim.

For over a month, Clayborne and Williams have been separated from their children, who cry regularly to come home. “It’s indescribable,” said Williams. “I couldn’t even give you words."

In the U.S., over 50% of Black minors experience a child welfare investigation, about twice as much as whites. Almost 10% of Black children end up in foster care. Often, it’s because the state frames poverty as parental “neglect.” 

Instead of providing resources and support, this system forces Black kids into a minefield of abandonment and abuse.

Between cops and foster care, this country relentlessly works to dismantle Black families. But this family’s fight to reunite isn’t isolated, or a lost cause. We can still support each other and protect the children in our communities.