On Tuesday morning, Syesha Mercado and her partner, Tyron Deneer, held a press conference to raise awareness about their fight to regain custody of their two children, according to WFLA.
In the press conference, Mercado and Deneer referenced an Instagram video uploaded on July 11 that show’s the couple’s ten-day-old daughter being taken away by deputies during a traffic stop in Manatee County, Florida.
In the Instagram post, Mercado asks police, “How could you guys do this? Do you not feel anything? My baby is days old and you’re taking my baby away from me. You’re taking my baby away from me. You have no heart. This is so wrong.”
News of their daughter being taken away comes on the heels of their 18-month-old son being taken from their care in March 2021.
According to the Herald-Tribune, the couple insisted they had taken their daughter to the doctor the day prior. “They also said they were on their way with the baby to the sheriff’s office at 8 a.m. Wednesday and were told no one was available.”
During the press conference, Mercado said, “We should have never been criminalized for getting assistance for something. Our life revolves around health, balance and doing what we can to guide our children,” Deneer said. “Nothing that we do is detrimental to our babies.”
Here’s what you need to know:
The Couple Initially Took Their Son to the Hospital After Concerns of ‘Malnutrition’
According to the Herald Tribune, Mercado and Deneer took their child to the hospital earlier this year, “concerned about malnutrition after Mercado’s breast milk supply started to run dry, and the boy would not accept other fluids.”
When the child was eventually discharged in March, he was put into foster care.
As highlighted by NBC News, the video of Mercado’s daughter being taken away by deputies has “prompted outrage among Mercado’s supporters, who feel racism has played a part in her case, along with other injustices.”
According to TMZ, the Manatee County Sheriff’s department has said that they took Mercado’s second child “by order of a family court judge.”
Mercado Has Created a GoFundMe Page
On July 24, Mercado created a GoFundMe page to help pay for legal fees in the fight to bring her children home.
The page reads, “Our legal fees are mounting, and will continue to increase as the case comes to the courts. We need finances to prepare with second opinions on our medical documents and other costs in the campaign to ‘Bring Ra and Ast Home!'”
The page continues, “No mother, father, or child should ever have to experience being forcefully separated the way that we have been. We know our Sun and Daughter are Strong and Protected by so much Light and Prayer, and trust our situation will help to bring urgent attention and calls for accountability to the increasing incidence of racial and cultural discrimination in the child welfare system, and the trauma it creates within our community and within our homes.”
As of the evening of August 17, the campaign had raised $413,616.
Lutheran Services Florida is also working to bring Mercado’s children home. The organization told Fox 13 Tampa Bay, “In Florida, we are restricted by law and we can’t talk about any case in any specificity, but I can tell you our goal is to get children home as safe as possible. To reunify with the family and make sure the child can be safe and healthy moving forward.”
During the press conference, co-counsel Louis Baptiste said, “This case is based against their beliefs and practices against who they are. Against how they chose to eat and what they chose to eat.”