Even behind bars, Warren Jeffs’ grip on polygamist sect remains firm

Even though Polygamist Prophet Warren Jeffs remains behind bars awaiting the continuation of his preliminary hearing later this week, his grip on the people in the polygamist communities of Colorado City, Arizona and Hildale, Utah remains undiminished.

Last week the organization that certifies police officers in Arizona released a letter from Marshall Fred Barlow – the top cop in both towns. Marshal Barlow asked for advice on a pending hire, and their pledged his support for Jeffs. He wrote, “I follow the directives that you have sent to me… I have felt a unity between the peace officers. They have all stated to me their desire to follow the directives. I do know that I and all of the other officers have expressed our desire to stand with you.” The letter was written in October 2005 when Warren Jeffs was a federal fugitive.

Now, the town councils of both Hildale and Colorado City are apparently stonewalling efforts to get approval for a survey of UEP property.

UEP, or United Effort Plan, is a trust that controls just about all of the land in the twin towns. The surveys are necessary to again allow the buying and selling of UEP property.

Warren Jeffs used to control the UEP and its estimated $110 million dollars in assets. Those who have left or been kicked out by Jeffs say the UEP was just one of the vehicles he used to exercise absolute control over the lives of his people.

Since a Utah judge removed Jeffs as Trustee and appointed Bruce Wisan as Special Fiduciary, the standing order from Jeffs has been, “Answer them nothing,” or, resist every move by the Special Fiduciary. At one point earlier this year, that even meant refusing to pay property taxes.

Now that resistance continues through the town council. Regular meetings have been postponed or canceled altogether to avoid discussing surveys or making a decision.

Without city approval, Wisan and the UEP must find another way to have the surveys properly recorded. In Arizona, state law seems to allow the county to act in place of the city, but that process will take up to a year and a half. In Utah there is no such provision, so Wisan will probably have to sue. That could take even longer.

“Freedom” and the “American Dream” for the small but growing number of people in Colorado City and Hildale who no longer call Jeffs a prophet will be difficult and slow.

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Religion News Blog posted this on Thursday December 14, 2006.
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