Residents of polygamous towns rally for equal rights, protection

Posted at 11:37 PM, Oct 26, 2015
and last updated 2015-10-27 08:54:31-04

COLORADO CITY, Ariz. - A group of Hildale and Colorado City residents rallied over the weekend, calling for equal protection by local government. They say law enforcement discriminates against non-members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Hildale resident Terrill Musser organized the event. Close to 100 people gathered with signs saying “Free our town: and “Church and state, separate.

Musser said for too long community members have talked about feeling like second class citizens in their hometown, now they’re taking action.

“This isn’t just about the people out here fighting for their rights,” Musser said. “It’s not about religion. It’s about, “hey, let’s follow the basic laws and rules we as Americans get to follow.”

Musser said the issue came to a head earlier this month when the town marshals arrested two individuals for trespassing on land they’d leased from the United Plan Effort trust. The marshals say because someone is living on the property, the trust needs a court order.

Rally attendees say those arrests are just one example of the FLDS church discriminating against non-members. Marshals have said there’s no truth to that claim.

“It’s created awareness,” said rally attendee Harvey Dockstader. “More people are conscious now about the importance of standing up just saying ‘hey, you know we have rights too.’”

Musser said it’s not just the marshal’s office, it’s every aspect of the community, from the government, public works, even the utilities all they’re asking for is equal rights.

“They need to start respecting us for what we believe, and not live as a divided community,” Musser said. “I don’t want to spend the next 50 years of my life fighting over land, fighting over religion.”

Next, Musser said he plans to organize a community meeting with the local mayors and law enforcement to force a discussion about their concerns.