COLORADO CITY, Ariz. – Citizens in Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Arizona – border communities commonly known as “Short Creek” – will gather in Colorado City Saturday evening for a community rally to discuss issues and protest against alleged corruption in the cities.
“This is the first time something like this has ever been put together in this town,” event organizer Terrill Musser said.
“This is by the people, for the people,” he added. “Everybody that lives out here should get involved.”
The rally will take place Saturday at 6:30 p.m. MDT at 15 N. Central St. in Colorado City, where the Dezereta gas station and fast food business used to be.
In addition to Short Creek residents, citizens from other communities are encouraged to attend.
“It (problems in Short Creek) affects everybody in all of our sister towns, it really does,” Musser said.
The rally will be a peaceful demonstration. People are encouraged to bring signs with messages focusing on the need for separation of church and state in the community. People can also bring glow sticks, Musser said.
“We’ll have some hot chocolate and warm drinks in case it gets cold,” he said.
Lighting will be set up in case the event lasts until after dark. There will be plenty of parking space on private property, Musser said, so people can feel secure parking their cars without worrying about interference from the Hildale-Colorado City Marshal’s Office.
Musser said he contacted the local city office to inform city officials about the event and that there would be a large number of people in town. He said the city manager told him attendees could not gather on public property. (See ed. note)
“This isn’t about polygamy. This isn’t about police,” Musser said. “This is about our state’s rights and our American rights, and our constitutional rights are being ignored.”
Many people who want to attend the event have expressed they’re afraid of retaliation from the Marshal’s Office, he said, but the location where the rally is being held is private property.
Musser and his wife are both former members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, which allegedly controls government and law enforcement activity in the Short Creek community.
Musser said he left the FLDS religion about 12 years ago. Like many other ex-FLDS members, the Mussers recently moved back to the area, having obtained a home through the United Effort Plan Trust.
“I noticed my dad’s house out here in Hildale was empty, so I applied for it,” Musser said.
But moving back to Short Creek is not easy for former FLDS members like the Mussers. Persecution, abuse by law enforcement officers and even physical aggression and vandalism are common complaints among Short Creek residents who do not belong to the FLDS church.
A significant problem is non-FLDS residents don’t feel safe calling the marshals or local emergency medical responders, all of whom are FLDS members, when there is an emergency.
“I’d rather call somebody who was a hundred miles away,” Musser said.
If the FLDS responders have something against you, he said, you could potentially be in danger yourself by calling them for help.
“I want my children and I want my family to feel safe out here,” Musser said.
“Nobody dares go to them (local emergency responders),” he added, “and that right there should tell you something’s wrong.”
Musser said he feels compassion for law enforcement officers in the Short Creek area, because they experience the daily conflict of obeying religious orders or doing their job. If they disobey orders from the church, they could lose their families, and they believe they’ll be damned.
“The police officers out here are in a horrible situation,” Musser said.
In organizing the rally, Musser said he hopes to draw out both FLDS and non-FLDS citizens to start a conversation about these serious issues in the community, take steps toward change, and show state government officials in Utah and Arizona that Short Creek residents are taking action.
Musser emphasized the rally is not about religion or polygamy.
“It’s just people who want their basic rights,” he said. “They want to be safe in their homes.”
In striving for change, Musser said, he’s been actively encouraging people in the community to register to vote and participate in the local election this year.
“We weren’t raised to go register to vote,” he said. “We weren’t raised to get involved with our city that way.”
But that’s yet another problem in the community; even getting people to take part in the election process isn’t entirely hopeful.
“You’re going to have an FLDS count your votes,” Musser said. “How do we know it’s going to be honest?”
Musser has Milroy disease and uses a wheelchair. He said he is often bedridden because of his illness, and organizing the rally has been very physically taxing. But he said change needs to start somewhere.
“We want people to know we’re ready to take a stand and take our town back,” he said.
“We’re getting more and more diversity out here,” he added. “I think we can finally do something about it.”
A Facebook page has been created for the rally. Musser invited anyone with questions about the rally to message him privately on Facebook.
Ed. note: Entities contacted at the city have been clarified.
- What: “The Twin Cities Rally Against Corruption: Justice, Fairness, Protection”
- When: Saturday, Oct. 24 | 6:30 p.m. MDT
- Where: Former Dezereta property, 15 N. Central St., Colorado City
- Details: Event Facebook page
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