Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
Cloudy 49° Cloudy
News >  Pacific NW

10-month-old Meridian baby returned to his parents after widespread protests

UPDATED: Fri., March 18, 2022

A protester holding a sign directed to police, shouts “baby snatchers” Tuesday at a Boise policeman patrolling the area outside of St. Luke’s Boise Medical Center in Boise.  (Darin Oswald)
A protester holding a sign directed to police, shouts “baby snatchers” Tuesday at a Boise policeman patrolling the area outside of St. Luke’s Boise Medical Center in Boise. (Darin Oswald)
By Ian Max Stevenson Idaho Statesman

As tensions escalated, a controversial Meridian custody battle shifted abruptly Friday.

Amid widespread protests of law enforcement and other authorities, a 10-month-old baby has been returned to his parents, according to the Meridian Police Department.

The baby was separated from his parents late on March 11 after health authorities determined the child’s recent weight loss could threaten his life. The family has maintained the baby had not lost substantial weight, and was well taken care of.

Since then, the boy has been in the state’s custody. At a child welfare hearing Wednesday, an Ada County judge ordered the state to retain custody of the child, according to the family, who said another custody hearing was scheduled for April 8.

The family, Ammon Bundy, a close friend and candidate for governor, and others mounted ongoing protests all week at multiple locations in the Boise area, including at the private homes of police officers, according to multiple Treasure Valley law enforcement agencies.

In the past few days, protesters have posted names, photographs and addresses of people allegedly involved in the custody case online. They have gathered at private homes, Health and Welfare’s building, the Ada County Courthouse and St. Luke’s Boise Medical Center, where the baby was treated for a time.

Bundy posted a video on Friday calling on protesters to go to the home of a judge on Saturday. Later in the day, after the child was returned to his parents, Bundy posted another YouTube video to call off the Saturday protest. The child was returned to his parents around noon, according to a news release by Meridian police.

A blog post authored by the baby’s grandfather, Diego Rodriguez, said that protests at the Department of Health and Welfare’s Boise headquarters were “canceled indefinitely,” but that the family would continue “this fight nonstop” while the custody issue continues.

“In these situations, the goal is to reunite the child to its parents as soon as it is healthy enough to be returned,” Meridian police said. “Normally the parents agree to certain stipulations by the court. What those were or if there were stipulations is unknown.”

Rodriguez’s post notes that the boy’s parents agreed to a “measure of state oversight” in exchange for having their child returned to them.

Representatives from the state’s child welfare system will accompany the parents to future doctor’s appointments and will be granted access to visit the family unannounced, the post said.

“There is no need to continue protesting or harassing our public health officials, police officers or anyone else involved,” Meridian police said.

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

Local journalism is essential.

Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.

Active Person

Subscribe now to get breaking news alerts in your email inbox

Get breaking news delivered to your inbox as it happens.