A lone protester stood outside Kamden Johnson's day care in Mobile, Alabama on Thursday, holding a sign that said, "Demand Background Checks." Right now, Alabama does not require religious-affiliated day cares to do background checks on employees.
5-year-old Kamden Johnson was found dead Monday afternoon. Valarie Patterson worked at his day care Community Nursery and Preschool Academy and is charged with manslaughter. Investigators say Johnson was left in a van and later dumped on Demetropolis Road. Patterson has an extensive criminal background, including an arrest for driving recklessly with kids in the car. Her job at the daycare was to drive children.
"I previously thought people who worked around children had to get a back ground check, "said Lisa Blackburn, who organized the protest. "That's really scary as a mom."
Blackburn may have been the lone protester, but she says all parents should support what she's standing for.
"This should not happen. It shouldn't happen at places where it is their job to take care of our children."
"I came to tell you I support you guys 100%," said Mobile resident John Young. Young saw the protest and stopped to express his support.
"If we require background checks for taxi drivers, chauffeurs, shouldn't we require the same thing for daycare employees."
Young is right. The City of Mobile does require background checks for taxi drivers and limo drivers in order to get a business license. Even strippers in Mobile are required by city law to undergo a background check.
"This (daycares) should be one of the most highly regulated professions out there," said Young.
Tuesday, the city council plans to publicly present a resolution supporting background checks for daycare workers, but city council attorney Jim Rossler says he believes the state would have to remove the religious exemption before the council could make them mandatory.
"We should at least make people undergo a background check if they're going to work around our kids," said Blackburn.
Councilwoman Bess Rich said she is looking into whether the council may have any legislative authority through business licenses to require background checks.
Our affiliate Local15 News in Mobile, Alabama contributed to this story.