BOISE, Idaho (AP) — A major Boise hospital went on lockdown for about an hour Tuesday after far-right activist Ammon Bundy urged supporters to go the facility in protest of a child protection case involving one of his family friends.
St. Luke’s Health System put the Boise Medical Center on lockdown and began diverting incoming patients about 1:30 p.m. on Tuesday.
“Safety is our top priority,” the hospital said in a statement. “At this time, anyone in need of care should seek alternative health care providers and options. We ask that people please avoid the area near the Boise hospital until further notice.”
Several police cars from the Idaho State Police and Boise Police Department responded to the hospital for the protest.
A few dozen protesters stationed themselves outside various hospital doors and buildings, some speculating on social media about whether the facility could be accessed via underground tunnels. The protesters appeared to mostly stay on sidewalks, however, and the lockdown was lifted shortly before 3 p.m.
Earlier in the day, Bundy released a statement on YouTube warning that if an acquaintance’s young child was not returned to the family after a hearing Tuesday afternoon, that “patriot groups” would take action.
Bundy later released another video telling people that child protection workers were poised to move the baby from the hospital to a foster home, and telling them to show up at the facility immediately.
The baby was temporarily removed from from family custody last Friday after officials determined the 10-month-old was “suffering from severe malnourishment” and at risk of injury or death, according to a statement from police in the city of Meridian near Boise.
The baby’s parents had refused to let officers check on the child’s welfare after the family canceled a medical appointment, the police statement said.
Bundy, who is well-known for participating in armed standoffs with law enforcement, was arrested the following day on a misdemeanor trespassing charge after he protested at a different hospital where he believed the baby was being treated.
Bundy’s People’s Rights group has characterized the intervention as “medical kidnapping” and “child trafficking” on social media platforms.
In an earlier YouTube video, Bundy asked followers to protest at the homes of child protection service workers, law enforcement officers and others involved in the protection case.
“I’m not OK with any of this — to be honest with you if justice was to be served, we would go into the hospital, take that baby and we would give it back to their mother,” Bundy said.
He added: “And if we were further to administrate justice, we would find those that are accountable and we would prosecute them, and uh, you know, make them pay for the damages that they caused for this family and assure that this never happened again. That’s what should happen.”
Still, he said people should wait until after a hearing scheduled for 1 p.m. that was expected to determine if the child could immediately return home.
“This judge, if he doesn’t return this family back, knowing and seeing the information that is out there … if he doesn’t straighten this out, then we may have to straighten it out for him,” Bundy said. “And that’s not going to be pretty. It’s going to be difficult.”
In the video made later that day, Bundy characterized the situation as an emergency and directed people to the Boise hospital because he said the baby was going to be taken to a foster home.
Bundy, who is running as an independent candidate in a crowded race to be Idaho’s next governor, didn’t attend the protest himself. He was at the Ada County Courthouse all day, standing trial on charges of misdemeanor trespassing and resisting or obstructing officers in connection with an incident last year in which he showed up at the Idaho Statehouse despite being banned from the building after a previous trespassing arrest.
Bundy is representing himself in the case. He declined to present witnesses or offer opening statements during the trial, the Idaho Statesman reported. Jurors were still deliberating on a verdict Tuesday evening.
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