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Idaho gubernatorial candidate Ammon Bundy arrested in trespassing case

UPDATED: Sun., March 13, 2022

In this undated photo, Ammon Bundy receives a call from a former fellow inmate while picking Gypsy Lust apples in his orchard in Emmett, Idaho. Bundy calls himself a “sunlight kind of guy.” Before his family’s infamous standoffs near Bunkerville, Nevada, and Burns, Oregon, he was living in the dark, he told the Idaho Statesman. Now he’s got a new view on life that he’s eager to share, he said, and some Idahoans are eager to listen. (Kelsey Grey/Idaho Statesman via AP) ORG XMIT: IDBOI505  (Kelsey Grey)
In this undated photo, Ammon Bundy receives a call from a former fellow inmate while picking Gypsy Lust apples in his orchard in Emmett, Idaho. Bundy calls himself a “sunlight kind of guy.” Before his family’s infamous standoffs near Bunkerville, Nevada, and Burns, Oregon, he was living in the dark, he told the Idaho Statesman. Now he’s got a new view on life that he’s eager to share, he said, and some Idahoans are eager to listen. (Kelsey Grey/Idaho Statesman via AP) ORG XMIT: IDBOI505 (Kelsey Grey)
By Ian Max Stevenson Idaho Statesman

BOISE – Ammon Bundy, an independent candidate for governor of Idaho and far-right activist, was arrested early Saturday morning at St. Luke’s Meridian Medical Center on suspicion of misdemeanor trespassing. He failed to leave the property in relation to a child welfare case, according to Meridian Police.

The incident came two days before Bundy is scheduled to stand trial on three charges from a previous trespassing case at the Idaho Capitol.

In the latest incident, Bundy was arrested around 1:15 a.m. Saturday morning, said Kelsey Johnston, spokesperson for the police department.

“He was asked to leave the property and did not,” Johnston told The Idaho Statesman.

Bundy’s gubernatorial campaign manager, Wendy Kay Whitaker, was also arrested, on suspicion of trespassing at the hospital, and two people were arrested earlier Friday in a related incident on suspicion of resisting or obstructing police.

On Friday, the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare referred a child welfare case to the Meridian Police, Johnston said.

Police were informed that a 10-month-old child who had been taken to a hospital March 1 was determined by medical staff to be “suffering from severe malnourishment,” according to a news release from the Meridian Police Department. On March 4, the child was discharged from the hospital under the care of his parents.

During a follow-up appointment the following week, “it was determined the child had again lost a significant amount of weight and when the parents canceled the next follow-up appointment and could not be located, the Meridian Police were contacted and advised this child’s condition could lead to severe injury or even death if not treated,” the release said.

Health and Welfare eventually contacted the child’s father, who said he would bring the child in for an appointment, but did not, the release added.

Police officers also attempted to check on the child at a Meridian residence, but “the occupants were uncooperative and refused to let officers check on the child’s welfare,” the release said. After receiving a warrant to enter the home, police discovered the child and his parents weren’t there.

According to a Saturday blog post linked to by Bundy’s campaign, the child involved in the welfare incident is the grandson of Diego Rodriguez, a Boise pastor, People’s Rights activist and figure in Bundy’s bid for governor. Rodriguez is listed as the author of the post.

After the baby’s release from the hospital on March 4, he was in the care of a pediatrician, the post said. On Friday, the boy’s mother canceled an appointment with the pediatrician because she “woke up not feeling well.”

Later on Friday, police went to the family’s address, but the child and parents were not there, the post said. On Friday night, the family was at a friend’s house for dinner. After departing, police stopped the parents at a Garden City gas station and took the child, the post said.

The Garden City traffic stop was conducted by Garden City Police with the assistance of Boise Police and the Meridian Police Department. Meridian Police took the child into custody in Garden City. The boy’s mother was arrested on suspicion of resisting or obstructing police during a traffic stop, the police news release said.

The child’s mother livestreamed on Facebook from the back of the ambulance while police told her what was happening and took the baby. The video runs nearly six minutes and mostly features the back and forth between the mother and a police officer.

“He’s my baby. I’m not gonna leave him,” the mother said. “… I understand you want to get him better. Why can’t I be with him while you’re doing the medical work? How am I a danger to him if I’m just watching and I’m with him?”

The police officer informed the mother that the detective on the case had declared the boy in “imminent danger.”

“I really don’t want to make this worse on you,” the officer said. “I’d like to get him the help that he needs right now. … He goes with us in the ambulance and you leave. If that doesn’t happen, then we arrest you.”

Eventually, the officer told the mother she can hand over the baby and “go on your merry way” or “I remove him from you and you go to jail.”

After the mother refused one more time, no people are seen in the video but voices can be heard.

“Please let him go so he does not get hurt,” the officer said.

“I promise,” a female voice tells the mother, “I will take good care of him.”

During the traffic stop, Bundy directed followers of his to come to the site and record the incident, Johnston said.

When the child was taken to St. Luke’s Meridian, Bundy also directed followers of his to go there, Johnston said.

Early Saturday morning, a text alert was sent out to followers of the People’s Rights, an activist citizens group organized by Bundy, to go to the hospital in order to have “boots on the ground … to demand that the baby have family present,” according to copies of the messages reviewed by the Statesman.

In a Saturday post on Twitter, Bundy wrote that “last night my very good friend Diego’s grandson was medically kidnapped because a medical practitioner called (child protective services) for a missed doctor appointment. If this happened to them, it could happen to you.”

In an earlier statement from his campaign, Bundy said that the incident was “an ambush arrest with no legal grounds.”

Bundy and the mother are not being held at the Ada County Jail, according to jail records. Bundy and the mother attended a protest Saturday afternoon at St. Luke’s Regional Medical Center in Boise, which has a children’s hospital.

In a Saturday interview with the Statesman at the protest, Bundy said he thinks the child is being treated at the pediatric hospital in Boise. He paid $325 in bail and was released from jail at around 4 a.m.

“We have just become such a pro-police state,” Bundy said, calling the state’s conduct “disparaging.”

“That child does not belong to the state,” he added. “That child belongs to their parents.”

Bundy has a substantial arrest record.

The Emmett resident is set to go on trial Monday for two charges of misdemeanor trespassing and one charge of resisting or obstructing officers after he was arrested twice in one day at the Idaho Capitol in April 2021. At the time he was subject to a one-year ban from the Statehouse.

The reason for his ban was a previous trespassing incident, when Bundy refused to leave an auditorium at the Idaho Statehouse in August 2020 during a protest of the Idaho Legislature’s special session and was rolled out of the building by police in a chair. In July 2021, he was found guilty in that case of misdemeanor trespassing and misdemeanor resisting or obstructing officers.

Bundy received a three-day jail sentence, with credit for time served, and did not receive additional jail time. He was also sentenced to 48 hours of community service, and in December argued that his time spent campaigning for governor counted as community service.

Bundy is well-known for participating in armed standoffs with law enforcement, notably at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon in 2016, and on federal land near his family’s ranch in Nevada in 2014.

The Malheur takeover of federal land left one man dead.

Bundy was charged in the Oregon and Nevada incidents. He was acquitted in Oregon, and the Nevada charges were dismissed after a mistrial.

On Saturday, Bundy called the Ada County Magistrate Court, where his trial will take place, a “kangaroo court.”

“It’s just such a joke,” he said. “Every time I’ve been arrested, I’ve been in the defense of somebody’s rights.”

Idaho Statesman Editor Chadd Cripe contributed to this report.

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