Civil rights activist and journalist Shaun King claims an anonymous tipper reportedly called child protective services on his family, and that he will not allow his children to be interviewed even if he is in violation of NYC law.
King, who in recent days has played a crucial role in identifying people caught in hate-crime speech videos such as New York attorney Aaron Schlossberg, shared details of the matter on Twitter on Wednesday evening.
“Someone hateful has targeted my children tonight. The lowest moment of my life as a leader. Pray for us. We’re safe, but deeply humiliated,” he wrote in a series of tweets.
King says his family had been getting ready for his daughter’s recital when he received a call from the doorman of his apartment building, saying someone was there to speak with him about his children. It appears from King’s tweets they were not in their apartment at the time of the call.
King, who claims in the tweets he initially dismissed the call as a stalker or a prank, says he was concerned when the woman identified herself as a New York Child Services (ACS) employee, demanding to see him and his children right away. (The ACS formally stands for the NYC Administration for Children’s Services.)
“I asked her if she knew who I was at all. She said she didn't,” he wrote in another tweet. “But that she needed to see me and my children immediately. And that she needed to come wherever I was to see them I was not home because she believed my children were in danger.”
The complaints reportedly said the children had been left alone by King and allowed to use drugs.
King has three biological children, and two adopted children, as King describes in a Medium post. His tweets indicate the ACS person wanted to see three of his children, though he did not identify which three.
King said in a Twitter video on Friday morning that the NYU School of Law has taken up his case.
“It is really infuriating because it never should have made it through anybody’s filter,” he said in the video.
King reiterated in the video, as was emphasized in his initial tweets, that he was not going to let any of his children speak with ACS or NYPD under any circumstances, even if it means he is in violation of NYC laws.
In a statement posted on the activist’s Medium blog on Thursday, his wife Rai King, identifying herself as a former teacher with NYC Department Of Education, expressed her shock at the incident.
“That someone would knowingly call in a vicious, outlandish, false report of abandonment, neglect, and abuse concerning our children is completely unconscionable!” she wrote.
“As a former teacher with the NYCDOE, I am aware that there are too many children in this community who are in actual need of intervention. That some white supremacist or disgruntled person would waste the city’s limited resources to randomly call in false information that severely puts my family in harm’s way, and drive workers away from their important work, truly baffles me.”
Oxygen.com reached out to NYCDOE which was unable to immediately confirm if a teacher by the name of Rai King has worked with them.
It is not entirely clear why the tipper is being referred to as a white supremacist or if the issue relates to race in any way. King’s wife is black, and according to reports he responded to in 2015, he is of black heritage as well.
King himself has been a staunch advocate for the Black Lives Matter movement, and has outed numerous white supremacists. Last year, he identified at least two white men violently beating a black man after the Charlottesville protest. In May, after a video went viral of white attorney Aaron Schlossberg threatening to call ICE on two Spanish speaking customers at a midtown cafe, King’s tweets were instrumental in identifying Schlossberg.
“Weaponizing” child services against a nemesis or person of conflict is nothing new, according to a Gothamist’s report that states other people have since come forward with similar experiences. The report points to a 2016 incident where an “alt-right troll” Mike Cernovich threatened comedian Vic Berger after his fans insulted Cernovich on Twitter.
"Wow. The guy who pals around on Twitter with pedos allegedly has kids. If true I may have to call Child Protection Services,” Cernovich reportedly wrote on Twitter.
King appears to be certain that he has been targeted because of his influence.
“This has thrown my whole family for a loop,” King said in Friday’s video. “I’m a person of influence and means and privilege. What I’ve learned is that these systems are weaponized against everyday people, every single day.”
He said even after this case is over, which might take up to 60 days, he and his wife will continue to fight this system.
Oxygen.com has reached out to ACS and NYU School of Law for comment.
[Photo: Shaun King speaks at a rally in March 2017 in Seattle, Washington. By Karen Ducey/Getty Images]