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Idaho authorities retain custody of Meridian boy for now


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Around 140 people stood on the sidewalk outside the St. Luke’s Boise Medical Center on Avenue B in Boise Saturday afternoon to protest the state’s taking of a 10-month-old child from his mother.

Idaho Statesman

Authorities will not return a 10-month-old Meridian child — who has been at the focal point of protests this week — to its parents for the time being, the family said Wednesday.

The Wednesday afternoon decision comes after a two-day shelter care custody hearing concluded on Wednesday. Meridian police said authorities took custody of the boy late Friday night after determining the baby was in imminent danger of serious harm due to weight loss.

“They are giving custody of (the baby) to the state,” Diego Rodriguez, the child’s grandfather, told the Idaho Statesman Wednesday.

The custody decision follows multiple days of related turmoil, after far-right activist Ammon Bundy, who’s running for governor, was arrested early Saturday morning at St. Luke’s Health System’s Meridian Medical Center after he “demanded” the boy be released. Rodriguez is a friend and campaign consultant of Bundy’s.

Since Saturday, protesters have gathered daily at the St. Luke’s Boise Medical Center in objection to the custody issue. The baby’s family claims that the child’s parents were working with a nurse practitioner on finding a diet that the baby could digest when the boy’s mother, Marissa Anderson, canceled a doctor’s appointment on Friday because she wasn’t feeling well. Later that same day, the parents did not take the boy to a welfare appointment that an Idaho social worker requested they go to, the boy’s aunt, Miranda Chavoya, told the Statesman.

Late Friday night, Treasure Valley police stopped the family at a Garden City gas station and took custody of the child.

The incident has since garnered widespread attention from right-wing figures in Idaho.

Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin was at an evening protest on Monday, Rodriguez said. Rep. Tammy Nichols, R-Middleton, was seen at Saturday’s protest. Since his arrest, Bundy has been at protests at the hospital on multiple days, and his father, Cliven Bundy, a far-right activist from Nevada who is known for armed standoffs with federal law enforcement, was seen at a protest on Tuesday evening.

Around 50 protesters were outside the Ada County Courthouse early on Wednesday afternoon.

A few hundred feet from the custody hearing, Bundy was convicted on Wednesday of one count of misdemeanor trespassing and one count of resisting or obstructing officers.

A spokesperson for the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare, which handles child welfare cases, could not immediately be reached.

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Ian Max Stevenson is a breaking news reporter at the Idaho Statesman. If you like seeing stories like this, please consider supporting our work with a subscription to our newspaper.
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