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(CW) — A group of parents in Minnesota called Stop CPS From Legally Kidnapping Children has filed a request in federal court to “shut down the state’s child protection services, stop serial abuse of families and overturn the unconstitutional laws by which the agency operates,” according to a press release published Tuesday.

The group, led by Dwight Mitchell, a father who says his son was illegally taken from him for 22 months, first filed a civil rights complaint in April, and this week they vocally publicized their call to shut down the child services agency, which they claim engages in systemic lying, withholding information, and fabricating evidence. They are asking the federal court to suspend the state’s agency from enforcing child protection laws, and according to a petition signed by almost 5,000 people, are also demanding changes to the laws themselves.

Back in April, Mitchell said“Someone reported I spanked my child on his bottom. I was put in jail. My three children were taken away from me,”citing other states that have enacted laws to protect a parent’s “ordinary corporal punishment” rights. Though the practice of spanking is increasingly recognized as harmful to children’s well-being, it is highly questionable as to whether confiscating kids and placing them in foster homes is any better for their mental and emotional health.

According to the petition, which Mitchell started:

“I am fully aware there are children who do need to be removed from wretched situations and need protection, but their protection must be balanced with the constitutional rights of the mothers and fathers.

“Child Protection Services (CPS) chooses to ignore those laws the legislature, made. Even when notified of those laws, they fabricated evidence, lie and go about their illegal activities with a brazen arrogance totally without fear of reprimand, reprisal or the consequences of their illegal actions.”

Among the changes to the law Mitchell and the group are calling for are making lying, fabricating evidence, and withholding information a felony, requiring more publicly available information so parents know their rights, eliminating total immunity for state agents, and requiring all parental termination cases to be jury trials.

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