SINGLE MOTHER FALSELY ACCUSED OF ENDANGERING HER CHILDREN AT OCCUPY OAKLAND
[This article is a much shorter version of an original piece that connected Kerie Campbell’s situation to larger systemic issues, with analysis about how patriarchy and heteronormativity get enforced in this society, through the court system and in so many other ways. However, because of Kerie’s legal situation, her lawyer warned us that this kind of publicity might anger the court system and prevent what we all want to happen more than anything: for Kerie to gain custody of her children. We will continue to make important systemic analysis in other actions and articles. In the meantime, we are finding ways to support Kerie and hope you join us to help Kerie in her struggle to get her children back.]
The authorities apparently stop at nothing to intimidate and scare people from participating in a movement that they fear. Stayaway orders, bogus arrests, heavy charges for minor offenses, sham “lynching” laws, and, most recently, deploying the Child Protective Services to attack a single mother for participating in Occupy Oakland.
Kerie Campbell is an all-star activist at Occupy Oakland. There from the very 1st planning meeting in Mosswood Park, there the night the camp struck back in October, Kerie is also an admin on the OO (Occupy Oakland) website and co founder of the Occupy Oakland Children’s Village. The Children’s Village is an area for kids and parents/legal guardians to hangout and feels safe, and is designed to create a space for children to have their voices respected and heard in ways not common for them. It allows people come to OO events knowing they will have a safe, friendly place to spend time with their kids. Most recently, at the OO Barbecue/Speakout series, kids in the Children’s Village made puppets, got their faces painted, and otherwise hung out together with their parents or guardians. Considering that Kerie is also a single mother with two young children, the fact that she is so heavily involved is impressive.
Around Occupy Oakland Kerie and her children are welcome, familiar faces that everyone loves. Like many other children who spend time around OO, Kerie’s kids became part of the larger OO family. But recently something tragic happened in her life that is angering her and the larger community of OO. This activist who has such a standing in the welfare of children had her own children forcefully taken away from her by an Ex-Husband under ridiculous charges that are clearly politically motivated.
Throughout Kerie’s marriage to Anthony Sprenger and during the 6-year custody battle of their 2 children, Kerie and her ex-Husband had a tumultuous relationship to say in the least. However their legal situation was finally worked out and she had two years of relative calm, which made this most recent attempt to bar Kerie from seeing her children come seemingly from out of the blue.
On Friday afternoon Kerie arrived at her children’s school like any other Friday, the day she her Ex-Husband normally switched custody. The Friday custody switch-up, until this point, went “like clock work.” Thursday night Kerie’s daughter called her, crying about a classroom conflict. “I told her that I would see her the next day.” Kerie recounts with tears in her eyes. But when she got to school, her children were nowhere to be found. She panicked, until a friend told her that her ex husband had come to pick the kids up before she got there. Frantically, Kerie went to different school administration officials to find out how exactly her Ex Husband had done this without any warning to Kerie. The search for more information from the administration, with which she had a good relationship up until this point, was to no avail. “They had their heads and eyes down and said that they couldn’t do or say anything.” Finally, she was forced to call the police (which she did not want to do) who eventually, after a lot of back and forth, produced the Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) her ex used to take the children. The Restraining Order was supposed to be served her before taking her children. It had no supplementary declaration or evidentiary documents.
The TRO stated that Kerie’s children were at risk because she had taken them to the Mosswood Encampment, which was an Occupy Oakland re-occupation that occurred on March 22nd, thus endangering them. That day the encampment was granted permission to be at Mosswood by OPD once the occupiers had taken their tents down. The “recklessly endangering” activities that Kerie and her children were taking partin? They ate pizza, wrote letters to imprisoned comrades, played Frisbee and tag,and read books in an environment largely resembling a park picnic. Clearly, this event was not dangerous. The TRO mentioned quite a few other charges that cite Kerie as an unfit mother because of her involvement in OO, which is absurd given her activities in Occupy Oakland.
This attack has disturbing implications for how repression could affect single parents involved in OO and is something the larger OO community must be on the watch for. Kerie believes this was a targeted attack against her involvement in Occupy Oakland. “[My ex-husband] had gone after everything else before, this was all he had left to go after.”
As occupiers and feminists, we must support Kerie against this attack, and we must continue to provide spaces like Children’s Village that support people with children who want to participate in this movement.
To donate to Kerie’s legal fund send checks to her friend Don Macleay:
“KC”. C/O Don Macleay, P.O. Box 20299, Oakland CA, 94620