Lindsey Graham, a salon owner in Salem, Oregon, detailed how state authorities dispatched child protective services (CPS) to her home as part of their response to her ongoing business operations in defiance of Gov. Kate Brown’s (D-OR) statewide “stay-at-home” order.
Graham recalled how an agent from Oregon’s Child Protective Services, a subsidiary of the state’s Department of Human Services (DHS), was sent to her home on the same day as the reopening of her hair salon.
“On May 7th, I got a phone call from my nanny,” said Graham. “As soon as I went to work, a DHS officer came to my home and tried to speak to her, and she said, ‘I don’t feel comfortable answering any questions for you. I think you need to call the homeowner.’ So DHS basically stopped by my house and said they had some claims against me and my family about our home being unfit.”
The same CPS agent returned to Graham’s home the following Monday, and he separated Graham and her husband from their six-year-old son in order to privately interview the child. Graham is also the mother of a three-year-old girl and an eight-week-old son.
Graham stated, “[The CPS agent] came back to my home, and my intention was, ‘Great, let this guy in and let him see what a great, loving, clean, and happy home we have, so he’ll just kind of get out of here.’ … He interviewed myself and my husband in separate rooms. He interviewed my six-year-old son in a separate room, and he searched our home. He made me lift up toilet seats and open our fridge. None of this is warranted. These are all bogus claims. Our home is completely safe and always has been, so this is definitely some kind of vendetta, sending a government agency after my family.”
Graham shared the episode during a press conference held last Friday. While holding back tears, Graham shared, “Child protective services showed up my home. They questioned my husband and I. They questioned my child without me present. They searched our home, and I never expected such a violent, aggressive, vindictive thing could ever have been done to me or my family because I’m trying to learn a living [and] because I’m trying to work.”
“They wouldn’t let me in the room while they questioned my child,” Graham noted of CPS’s private questioning of her six-year-old son. “As far as I’m aware, the case is open, and they are still insisting that they want to talk to my three-year-old daughter privately, as well. So, I don’t know if they’re going to talk to my eight-week-old newborn. We’ll see, but they did check his diaper.”
“This is a false claim that wasted CPS’s valuable time when there are children who are really in need,” determined Graham.
“Everyone’s job is essential, not because of what we do or how we do it, but because it’s the way we make our living,” added Graham. “I’m continually terrified for the surrounding businesses in Marion County that are still deemed non-essential. How many more businesses are going to go bankrupt and have to close because of this order?”
Municipal authorities in Salem have threatened to terminate Graham’s lease, given that her business is located on property leased from the city.
Graham also said she was initially threatened with a $70,000 fine and eventually issued a $14,000 for operating a “hazardous facility” for her “employees.” She noted that her salon does not have employees but instead partners with independent contractors who voluntarily choose to work at her business.
“I don’t have employees in my salon, right now,” remarked Graham. “I have independent contractors that are choosing to work, and they are choosing to do their clients’ hair, so they can provide for their families and their children.”
Authorities further threatened to revoke Graham’s and her contractors’ professional licenses for operating in defiance of the governor’s “stay-at-home” decree.
“By revoking our licenses, they saying, ‘If you continue to do hair, we will take your entire livelihood from you for the rest of your life,’” explained Graham.
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