When I started writing this blog, it would have been hard to imagine a headline like the one on this post. While I certainly disagreed with Republicans on many issues, it wasn’t a common occurrence for an elected Republican official in Montana to sit down with a militia news outlet; nor was it common for such a legislator to accuse government agencies entrusted with protecting children of “kidnapping” them.
That’s just what Billings representative Rodney Garcia did last week, though. In an interview with militia news outlet Northwest Liberty News, Garcia attacked Child Protective Services in Montana, accusing its social workers of “stealing kids” before proposing jailing them for doing so.
Garcia agreed enthusiastically with the interviewer, James White, when he claimed that “CPS was a ruse…they violate the law. I think that they harm children,” before claiming that “Child Protective Services do not protect the children. They kidnap them.”
Apparently not understanding either how child protective services operate or what a court order is, Garcia went on to assert that children are “taken” from their homes with a mere accusation.
How does Garcia propose to solve the imaginary crisis he’s created? By “putting a $1,000 day fine when they steal kids” and putting the CPS caseworkers in jail. Later, he argued for cutting the budget of Child Protective Services in half.
In a bizarre admission, Garcia also said that CPS came to his house forty-five years ago to investigate an allegation without taking his kids.
And then the interview went completely off the rails. Mr. White claimed that the places where children who are removed from their homes are taken are “littered with pedophiles,” and that Planned Parenthood is “chopping up babies and selling their body parts,” and once again, Representative Garcia agreed, calling it a sad day in our nation’s history.
Later, Garcia criticized a legislative proposal to better train CPS workers, calling it an effort to “train you guys to steal kids better.” At the 10:25 mark of the interview, Garcia really gets into the militia spirit, calling on people to “defend their property and their family” from CPS workers.
It would be tempting to dismiss Representative Garcia’s ravings, but they represent the view of many Republicans, who brought three bills to the House designed to undermine Child Protective Services. HB 408, HB 409, and HB 410, two of which have failed in the House, all of which were endorsed by Republicans like Al Olszewski, would have made it more difficult to remove children from situations where they were subject to abuse and neglect.
It’s horrifying that many Montana Republicans want to spread misinformation about vaccination and it’s dangerous that they tacitly and directly endorse the views of dangerous anti-government groups, but it’s reprehensible that they want to make it more difficult to remove children from homes where they are abused. It’s reprehensible that they want to roll back the protections society has put in place to protect kids from horrific abuse and dangerous neglect, and that they’re willing to demonize people who do some of the most challenging jobs in our state to do it.
I’d like to think that the Republican Party isn’t filled with legislators like Mr. Garcia, people who will cast the most unfair and dangerous aspersions about social service workers, but at least 40 Republicans voted for each of these bills, all of which will make it more difficult to protect kids from monsters who would harm them.