Arizona and Utah attorneys general have been trying for years to stop the abuse in Colorado City. Why do the problems persist?
Prior attorneys general have not given this issue sufficient high priority. Immediately upon taking office in January 2011, I organized a task force of federal, state and local law-enforcement officials to seriously deal with this problem. They reported that the first priority was to get objective law enforcement into Colorado City, because the local police, called marshals, were under the thumb of the dominant church, and terrorize the people that object to the oppression that occurs.
We prepared a bill that was general in nature but would have the effect of replacing the local police with the Mohave County sheriff. The bill passed the Senate 30-0, but narrowly failed in the House. I then transferred $420,000 to the Mohave County sheriff so he could station a deputy sheriff as a source of objective law enforcement in Colorado City. The reports we are getting are that that has made a huge difference.
You want legislation to strip the town marshal’s office of its law-enforcement powers. Why?
At the Legislature, there was testimony that the town marshals are an arm of the dominant church. They have supported a system in which over 1,000 young men have been expelled, so the older men will not have competition for the young women to go into their harems.
Do you expect there would be resistance in the Legislature to passing such a measure?
Last year, just before the vote in the House, hired guns of the dominant church spread false information among the House members, and the bill failed narrowly. We were able to correct the false information, but procedural problems prevented a second vote. If your readers will express their views to their legislators, the bill should pass this year.
How do you know the Colorado City government is controlled by the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints?
Testimony at the Legislature, and in our ongoing civil-rights action, and other information, indicates that the dominant church gives people sample ballots telling citizens how to vote, and if any official crosses Warren Jeffs, the leader of the church, he can not only lose his job, but his wives and children are taken away from him and given to another member of the church.
How do you get through to people who are living traditions their parents passed on that they are committing crimes?
We have no interest in taking action against adults exercising their free will to live traditions their parents passed on. But when children are sexually assaulted, when people are coerced against their will, boys are kicked out of towns so the older men can dominate the young women in their harems, and the local police refuse to enforce the law objectively, justice must be done.
As you crack down, what kind of push back have you gotten?
We are now getting reports from the sheriff of concern about possible confrontations with the local police, as the sheriffs enforce the law objectively. For example, a sheriff’s deputy encountered the local marshals in the morning, not wearing bulletproof vests, and later in the day, the marshals were wearing bulletproof vests. This raised concern that a confrontation could occur.
One of Attorney General Horne’s priorities is to make sure the funds to bolster the MCSO patrols are replenished. In addition, the Attorney General’s Office supports legislation addressing the concerns raised by the testimony given regarding the Marshal’s office.
The Attorney General is urging your support. Please contact your state legislators and ask that funds be made available for continued Mohave County Sheriff’s Office patrols. You can find out who your legislators are using this website: http://azleg.gov/alisStaticPages/HowToContactMember.asp
**This article first appeared in The Arizona Republic, January 25, 2013