Last month we asked for your support in calling the Charlottesville Department of Social Services to demand justice for Rhiannon Williams, who has been working for more than two years to be reunited with her daughter in the face of the stark racial disparities of Cville DSS’s treatment of black families when removing children from their homes. As a result of this campaign, Rhiannon has been targeted for repercussions by DSS that impact her ability to visit her daughter. Please join us as we support Rhiannon in her courageous stand against this violent treatment and in defense of her family. Rhiannon has been very clear that reunification with her daughter is only the first step in a campaign to ensure that not other family faces this racist treatment again. We cannot falter now, Rhiannon needs our support more than ever.
There are two simple actions you can take today to support her as she prepares for a court hearing this Wednesday:
Call Deputy City Attorney to express your concern. (434) 970-3131 is the clerk’s number. Sample script:
“Hi. My name is ______________________ I am from _______________________. I have a message for Charlottesville Deputy City Attorney Allyson Davies – Reunite Rhiannon Williams with her daughter! I am concerned about the racially biased treatment aimed at the black families in Charlottesville. From the DSS statistics on racial disparities in the removal of children from their homes to the Disproportionate Minority Contact data, it is clear that the only thing these families are guilty of is being poor and black. I demand a change in the DSS policies immediately. Start by bringing Rhiannon’s daughter back home. That’s what her mother wants, and that’s what SHE wants.”
If you get a voicemail, please leave a message and then, if possible call again until you speak to a person.
If you have time for more than a phone call:
– call multiple times throughout the day and leave a general message each time
– in addition to the general message to the attorney’s office, call and deliver the message to each of the following people who are on the City Council:
1. Mayor Satyendra Singh Huja – 434-977-5094 (H) – 434-981-8948 (C)
2. Vice Mayor Dede Smith – 434-882-2933 (C)
3. Kristin Szakos – 434-987-1042 (C)
4. Kathy Galvin – 434-249-6404 (C)
5. Bob Fenwick – 434-249-3406 (C)
– call friends and explain to them why it is important to you that they call also
– share this action alert on social media
– if you’re in the area stop by DSS and tell them in person
– Contact us about future actions: firstname.lastname@example.org or http://tinyurl.com/fightcvilledss
– To learn more about the problem visit http://tinyurl.com/fightcvilledss and check out the “files” section.
This is very helpful even if you don’t live in Charlottesville. Attention to this from outside of the area also generates concern. The city government works hard to project an image of “the friendliest city in the usa.” Bad publicity is a great motivator.
*DMC = Disproportionate Minority Contact with the cradle-to-prison pipeline. Meaning black children in Charlottesville are put into contact with police, social workers, school disciplinary systems, courts and incarceration at far greater rates than white children. The city formed a commission to deal with this, which has been meeting for two years with no visible results.
My Child was kidnapped by Charlottesville’s Department of Social Services
My name is Rhiannon Williams, a mother fighting for her daughter to get back home. My family was torn apart in less than 24 hours. DSS swooped in and took my daughter away because I wanted to take her to my preferred physician and not Region Ten, as they demanded. No warning, no chance to explain myself, no prior troubles. Unbelievable, isn’t it? I’ve been living this nightmare for more than 2 years!
I’ve not celebrated the holidays with my daughter since September 2012.
I want my daughter back home-where she belongs! Where SHE wants to be!
I am not alone in this fate. Black mothers and families are disproportionately targeted by DSS:
1. More than 57% of children in the foster care in Charlottesville are Black, compared to the relatively smaller 33% statewide.
2. In Charlottesville only a third of children taken into DSS custody return to their homes, more than 40% return home in the state.
3. While 15.5% are placed in adoption in Charlottesville, 28% are placed in adoption statewide.
4. Only 19% of children are reunited to their families in Charlottesville, while the numbers are higher at 30% statewide.
5. Third of the children in Charlottesville spend so much time in the DSS that they exit as adults without the love and safety of a family or a home, while only 20% face that fate in the state of Virginia.
One can only conclude that Charlottesville is far worse than the state’s averages on a number of issues concerning the lives of Black children.
These intrusions into the lives of black families are only one step of the cradle-to-prison pipeline. Greater proportion of black children is placed in juvenile detention, greater proportion of Stop & Frisks is aimed at black individuals, greater proportion of prison inmates is black individuals…
How about those facts for the happiest city in the country?
We want to have the same quality time with our families that you are able to enjoy. While it is a right for your families, we are forced to experience it as a privilege. STOP DSS from further removals until there is a community driven overhaul of DSS.
Want to help? Contact us: email@example.com orhttp://tinyurl.com/fightcvilledss
If it is this easy for DSS to kidnap my child, I can’t imagine how many more families DSS has ruined.