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“American Idol” star Syesha Mercado, a Florida resident, is allegedly being “targeted” by a powerful Pinellas County child services official who’s long faced accusations that she practices “bad medicine.”
Thanks to this official, Dr. Sally Smith, Mercados and her partner have had both of their children “forcefully and legally kidnapped,” as they describe it, with the most recent so-called “kidnapping” having occurred Wednesday.
A live-stream video posted to the singer’s Instagram account that afternoon showed Manatee County sheriff’s deputies surrounding her car and effectively confiscating her 10-day old baby girl.
View this post on Instagram
“Do you not feel anything? You guys, I’m human. This is my baby. My babies is days old and you’re taking my baby away from me,” Mercado pleads in the video above.
“You are traumatizing my baby. How could you guys do this? You have no heart. This is so wrong,” she adds.
According to the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, the couple’s tribulations began on Feb. 26th, when they took their now-15-month-old son, Amen’Ra, to Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg because of concerns about malnutrition.
“The couple was concerned about malnutrition after Mercado’s breast milk supply started to run dry, and the boy would not accept other fluids,” according to the newspaper.
The problem is that the hospital refused to give Amen’Ra back.
“Nearly two weeks later, St. Petersburg Police removed the parents from the hospital for trespassing. When the boy was discharged in late March, he was put in foster care over allegations of malnutrition,” the Herald-Tribune reported.
“According to the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office, medical staff reported that Mercado and Deener turned down a B-12 intramuscular shot, as recommended by the hospital, a claim that Mercado and Deener vehemently deny,” the paper added.
While it’s not clear which “medical staff” members made the claim, the Herald-Tribune notes that Smith “oversees nearly every case at All Children’s Hospital involving suspicious injuries.”
“She is considered one of the most powerful figures in the regional child welfare system,” the paper notes.
The problem is she’s “long been criticized by defense attorneys, parents and child welfare employees for her aggressive approach.”
A USA Today investigation published last year “found more than a dozen instances where charges were dropped, parents were acquitted or caregivers had credible claims of innocence yet suffered irredeemable damage to their lives and reputations” because of Smith’s poor judgment calls.
The head of Pinellas County’s child protective team, Dr. Sally Smith, (who examined Mercado’s son @AllChildrens) has been accused of being too quick to diagnose child abuse, raising significant concerns from family defense attorneys and advocates: https://t.co/gQrn4aNcUT (4/4)
— National Advocates for Pregnant Women (@NAPW) August 13, 2021
What happened this time, according to the Herald-Tribune, is that Mercados apparently recently gave birth to a baby girl who, as of Wednesday, was 10 days old.
However, she and her partner allegedly failed to inform local officials about the newborn: “Deputies indicated during the recorded confrontation Wednesday that the couple didn’t notify authorities about the child.”
Somehow, the authorities found out, tracked down the couple, and pulled them over to “kidnap” their newborn — as they put it — so she could be taken to a hospital for a checkup.
Mercado claimed during the encounter Wednesday that, one, her newborn had already been checked out a day earlier (that may have been how the authorities found out about the newborn), and that two, they’d tried to contact the sheriff’s office but were told that nobody was available at the time.
It seems the authorities didn’t believe them, and so their newborn was taken away as they — particularly Mercados — cried their hearts out.
The potential good news is that, while prior reporting on Smith’s “bad medicine” attracted only minute attention, the agonizing video posted by Mercados drew in millions upon millions of angry viewers.
As such, it may just be the straw that broke the camel’s back.
Indeed, as of Saturday, there were pages and pages and pages of tweets on Twitter of people slamming All Children’s Hospital.
Here’s a sample:
— 𝓌𝒷 ~ (@sweetbee_xo) August 13, 2021
You enable the kidnapping of children and trauma to families. Dr Sally Smith has a disturbing track record that reflects poorly on you. #BringRaHome
— Crazy Cat Lady (@KniTzu2) August 14, 2021
@AllChildrens You have a predator by the name of Sally Smith working at this hospital. How is forcibly removing healthy & happy children from healthy & loving families acceptable?!
— Expedia blocked me 🥲 (@Expediahhhhh) August 14, 2021
Is Sally Smith still employed at your hospital or has she been fired? Y’all know she’s a racist monster, right? What’s that make you?
— Clint (KBJ) (@KeyboardJunkie) August 14, 2021
— Brett Bretterson (@AtUh1h) August 14, 2021
You deserve to be shut down
— 🌸pasteldork🌸 (@pastel_marsupi) August 14, 2021
Y’all are racist. Taking that woman’s baby for no reason. Disgusting
— Former Kleva Black🇿🇦 🇿🇦 (@SneKhumaloSA) August 13, 2021
Meanwhile, Smith’s profile on Healthgrades, a site that functions like a Yelp for health care practitioners, had been flooded with negative reviews labeling her a “kidnapper,” “human trafficker” and piece of “human garbage.”
While this definitely fits within the bounds of what one would call “cancel culture,” many would contend that this is one of those rare instances in which the target genuinely deserves to be canceled.
Mercado herself first came into the public spotlight when she scored third place in the 2008 season of “American Idol.”
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