Rally draws hundreds along with world-wide support
Judge orders continued confinement of daughter, 13
By Diane Bukowski
DETROIT – Hundreds packed the pews of Hartford Memorial Baptist Church to support Maryanne Godboldo April 2. Her family says thousands more across the world have contacted them to support the battle to bring her daughter Ariana, 13, home immediately.
Over $3,000 was raised for Godboldo’s legal fees during the rally, by members of the Church’s Social Justice Ministry, who took collection plates from pew to pew.
Godboldo faces eight felony charges for standing off police armored vehicles, helicopters, and SWAT team members brandishing assault weapons on March 24. She and her supporters say she was only trying to keep Child Protective Services from forcing a dangerous drug, Risperdal, on her child.
“I want my daughter back TODAY,” Godboldo said from the church’s pulpit. “I’m terrified; I don’t know what is happening to her. If we don’t stand up for our children, we have no future. I am so filled with joy and thankful for your support, Detroit. The only reason I came out of my home was not all those guns out there, not the threats they brought against me, but because of YOU!”
Godboldo’s daughter is currently incarcerated at the Hawthorn Family Center at Northville, despite efforts by other family members to have her released to their custody. Attorneys Allison Folmar and Wanda Evans earlier obtained a temporary restraining order preventing doctors there from putting Arianna back on Risperdal.
Despite a large turn-out of supporters at a Wayne County Juvenile Court custody hearing April 6, and evidence that Arianna may have contracted a sexually-transmitted disease while at Hawthorn, Referee Leslie Graves ruled that the child would remain in state custody.
“I received a call from her mother Monday that they were transporting Arianna in an ambulance to Children’s Hospital for treatment for an STD,” Arianna’s father Mubarak Hakim told VOD. “We went down there and stayed all night with her. They took tests and we are awaiting the results. But they took her back to Hawthorn anyway. Her mother and I are visiting her there every day.”
After the hearing, Godboldo said, “I’m very concerned about my daughter, I’m trying to hold on, but I don’t think that I can do it. We need more people and more help. It was very hard for me to walk out of there without my daughter.”
During the April 2 rally, Godboldo spoke of the young women she met while she was incarcerated in the Wayne County Jail until she was freed on a personal bond March 30.
“They don’t have anyone to speak for them,” she said. “So many of them were medicated. A nurse would come and they would line up for their medications. One woman told me what Risperdal did to her. She was kidnapped at 17 and forced into prostitution in Chicago. When she got free and came back home, they put her on that drug. She said she felt dizzy, was hallucinating, and couldn’t function on a day-to-day basis.”
Attorney Evans called for massive help from the legal community, both in the custody battle and to fight the criminal charges.
“We are working hard to get these charges dismissed and Arianna home,” Evans said. “We need at least six attorneys in and out of court filing motions for stays and other actions. Every time they file something, we have to file in return. We need a medical team, of at least six specialists. We need paralegals, private investigators. This case has gone nation-wide. We are receiving emails from all over the world.”
Godboldo’s niece Ambyr Brooks said that the family has been contacted by people from Australia to Canada, many of whom have been similarly subjected to
state abductions of their children and forced medications.
Evans said she has been working in the juvenile system since 1984, but that removing children from their homes is not helping.
“I want to say this is a typical case,” she said, “but here you have an intelligent, articulate, attentive mother who has done her research and gotten preferred medical help for her daughter, and she is asking for assistance. But the system’s attitude is that it is not up to the family. Because she doesn’t want to deal with their plan, they have a whole team come in to bombard her and take away her child. Put yourself in the shoes of Maryanne Godboldo, what would YOU do? Wouldn’t YOU stand up and fight?”
Barbara Ann Polizzi, a critical care nurse from New York, drove 13 hours to the rally with her 17-year-old son Michael to tell a story almost identical to that of Arianna’s. Michael too was forced to take Risperdal.
“My son and I could not stop crying when we saw this story, because we know what you have been through,” Polizzi told Godboldo. “Michael lived away from me for six years and I had to fight all by myself to get him back.”
Many in the audience were moved to tears by Michael’s presentation.
“I felt scared and fearful,” he said. “The medicine gave me shortness of breath and made my heart race. I had to get an inhaler and started on heart medication on top of it. I was not Michael anymore.”
He said he was subjected to constant abuse during his placement away from his mother.
“My mother loves me and would not hurt me, but the staff at the school would hit me and yell at me,” he said. “They put me in the basement for six weeks. They would not let me take showers with my friends or play with them. A man did something to me that he shouldn’t have, and my mother came and got me. She took me off Risperdal and I was Michael again, I didn’t feel sad, the stiffness in my ankles went away. My mother never gave up on me.”
Calling Arianna his “new friend,” Michael said he is very worried about her.
“I know she was scared and sad when they took her away, and so was her mother,” Michael said. “The hospital is not a place for you. They force medications on you and if you don’t take them they give you a shot and even put you in restraints. Arianna needs to be Arianna. She must come home today before something bad happens to her. The hospitals never tell the moms what happens behind closed doors.”
Dr. Margaret Betts likened the taking of Godboldo’s child to the days of slavery.
“You would think this is 1811, instead of 2011, where they forcibly take a child and separate her from her family,” Betts said. “I’m appalled because I’m a physician, a certified allopath and I know that foods, herbs and spices given in the right combination can heal 90 percent of all diseases. The medications Maryanne’s child was given have permanent side effects. She was getting better under the alternative medicines. This was a case of her loving her daughter too much. If it happened to her it can happen to you.”
The Godboldo family is known for their long-time participation in the arts community in Detroit. Maryanne’s sister Penny Godboldo is a Dunham-certified master dance teacher at Marygrove College, and also runs her own dance institute. She choreographed a special dance for her sister and niece, called “Testify,” which was performed during the rally as part of the spiritual service by the Dance Ministry of Hartford, to a song by jazz artist Dianne Reeves
“That evening when I saw the police officers there and the tanks and helicopters, I knew only with God’s grace that this would end peacefully,” Penny Godboldo said. “It took a lot to do what my sister did.”
Towards the end of the dance, both sisters joined the purple-and-white robed dancers, poignantly displaying in movement their sorrow and belief that Arianna would come home. Penny Godboldo has coordinated much of the support for her sister, assisted by the Rev. Edie Worthy, head of Hartford Memorial Church’s Social Justice Ministry, and community organizers like Ron Scott, who chaired the rally.
Penny Godboldo attributed their defiant spirit to their upbringing by their parents, Lovey, now 98, and Walter Godboldo, who have a long history in the Detroit community.
“Maryanne has always been a good mother,” said the child’s father Mubarak Hakim. “She had Arianna active in dance classes, singing with the choir, and swimming. Maryanne is not war-like, but she is a person who will stand up for truth and justice. The pharmaceutical industry is evil, wicked and barbarous, it’s all about money. Doctors get perks from the corporations to introduce new drugs and make hundreds of thousands of dollars.”
Aurora Harris, parent of an autistic child, who is fighting the neglect of students with disabilities in the Detroit Public Schools system, read a poem she wrote for the Godboldos, called “No, the drugs make me act like a junkie.”
Paul Taylor of the Inner City Sub Center led a chant, “Save the babies!”
“They said she was holding her daughter hostage, but they were holding Maryanne hostage, she and her child. Maryanne’s father Hakim and I go way back, he has been an organizer of entrepreneurial training for young people with our center.”
Detroit City Councilwoman JoAnn Watson said, “We will not allow the state or any other entity to deny our humanity, and there is no form of humanity higher than motherhood.”
Among supporters at the rally were Ray Kendrick and his wife. Kendrick said that Walter and Lovey Godboldo took him “under their wing” when he was just 13.
“The kids all thought I was their oldest brother for years,” Kendrick said. “Their father was a mechanic, and he taught me how to repair cars.” Kendrick and his son later founded Park Property Management.
Deacon Bridgette McDonald of Hartford
Memorial said an organizing meeting will be held Monday April 11 at 6 p.m. in the church’s basement.The Justice4Maryanne committee is selling T-shirts for $20 with her photo and the slogan “The state does not own my child,” as well as posters, to raise funds for her defense and Arianna’s return. Contributions can also be made through PayPal on the organization’s website at www.justice4maryanne.com . The support committee can also be reached by calling 313-867-4841 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org; Penny Godboldo said they welcome letters of support, to be presented to the authorities, and asked that they be emailed to the committee.