Copblock covered a story about the Henderson family a couple months back. They had their six children removed from their home by DCFS and local LEOs because of an allegation of abuse that didn’t stick. They were arrested for not wanting to allow the armed strangers into their home. LEOs used a battering ram to break into their home. They were taken to jail and their children were taken to foster homes. Eventually their charges were dropped and they were released, only to find they lost their home, their livelihood and their family. DCFS decided to keep their children because they concluded they endangered their children by resisting search and seizure without a warrant.
It has now been over a year. Despite the fact that both parents have fully completed every requirement ordered by DCFS… parenting classes, counseling, monitored visits, unmonitored visits… the case is still open and the children are still not returned. DCFS has stated that they “appear to have not gotten anything out of the experience.” And that alone keeps them from reuniting the family.
The Hendersons are orthodox Jews. They keep kosher, keep the sabbath and have a large family.
Baby number seven made his way into the world a little over a month ago. Erica and Jeffrey were ecstatic. Erica did nothing but hold and breastfeed him. But the day after his birth, a social worker was on the phone demanding he be made a part of the case plan and be assessed by one of DCFS’s “doctors.” The parents politely refused, stating that this baby hadn’t even been conceived when the case began.
Nearly a month later, the social worker obtained a warrant by telling the judge that he believed the child to be urgently in need of removal. The order stated that upon arrival the social worker expected to find the infant physically or sexually abused and/or he would find that the home was so unsafe it was urgently required that the baby be removed from the parents.
When he arrived with two LAPD officers he found nothing but a healthy newborn in a safe home environment. He reported that he found nothing amiss and he and his companions left the home.
Two full weeks later he returned with two different LAPD officers. When they arrived, Erica was having one of her unsupervised visits with her other children. Nobody else was at home. She was nursing her infant when the three public servants walked into the home without a warrant. The oldest Henderson boy announced to his mother that there were police in the house.
When she came out to confront them, they demanded she hand over her baby. She wept and pleaded for them to leave her nursing son with her. One of the armed officers threatened that if she did not hand over the newborn they would take all the children and place her under arrest.
Her oldest daughter cried and begged the officers to leave her baby brother and not arrest her mother. “I’m just doing my job,” the social worker told the ten year old girl. She began to sing a Jewish prayer through her tears. The oldest son likewise begged them to leave and said, “My Imma is a good Imma. She has done nothing wrong!”
In the end, Mrs. Henderson sobbed as she handed her five week old to the officers, wishing to not traumatize her other children further by having them removed by force while seeing their mother placed in handcuffs.
The LEOs and social worker left with the baby, leaving the unmonitored children behind to finish their visit with their mother. Somehow, Erica pulled herself together and attempted to finish the visit without breaking down.
A week after the kidnapping, judge Marguerite Downing held an emergency hearing which by law should have been done within 48 hours. Without the parents present (she refused their right to appear in pro per), she sustained the order for removal and further ordered that Mrs. Henderson’s unmonitored visits be cut in half and reverted to monitored visits. The children were listed as “adoptable”… a term that means they are on the conveyor belt toward being placed in strangers’ homes. Fortunate for the department, there is federal money they stand to gain for both the children’s detainment and their subsequent adoption.
We assume the change was made to cover up the obvious discrepincy between the emergency removal order and the unmonitored children left behind. Further, it is even more suspicious that the investigation resulted in the social worker saying he didn’t see a problem and then felt the need to take the infant.
As of now, the children have still not been returned and, although the family has submitted press releases to local media and put up a website with information, very few local Los Angelinos are interested in making a stir over an infant. But we think copblock participants care more about holding people with badges accountable.
Daryl M. Russel, Chief of Police, Hollenbeck office, LAPD 323-342-4100
Los Angeles County DCFS Director, Philip Browning 213-351-5602
Superior Court Judge Lee Smaley 213-974-5600
State Representative Gloria Molina 213-974-4111