As you drive into Colorado City, Arizona you can't help but feel blown away by the picturesque scenery. The mountain range is so beautiful; it's a shame that very few people have seen the area that is only a few hours from Las Vegas. It's no secret that visitors aren't welcome here.
Gary Tuchman and I have been coming to the FLDS town for several years to report on their leader and convicted child rapist Warren Jeffs. We’ve done stories on the way he runs the polygamous sect in the area also known as Short Creek. Journalists who have worked out there know there are challenges to covering stories in the area. The minute anyone from the media arrives, text messages are sent around the community alerting everyone not to talk with them.
The Marshal’s office polices the town and is comprised entirely of officers who are members of the FLDS. They are loyal to Warren Jeffs and put his demands above the laws of Arizona. Nearly every time we have come, we are followed by officers and asked to leave or risk being cited. I'm not sure what they would cite us for, but they always threaten to do so and insist that we leave the area. We are well versed in what we can legally do in public areas so we stand our ground and continue shooting our stories, although the officers do their best to make it difficult.
People who have been kicked out of the FLDS community by Warren Jeffs, for a variety of reasons, tell us how officers stood by or helped Jeffs as their children were taken from them right out of their homes. They say the officers will enforce the commands of their imprisoned leader before protecting the rights of the people they serve and the laws of the land. It's been a problem here for years.
Recently legislation was introduced in Arizona to disband the Marshal’s office because of their record of corruption and the fact that half of their officers have been decertified in the past 8 years. It sailed through the Arizona Senate only to fail in the Arizona House. Why? I traveled to Arizona with Gary Tuchman and photojournalist John Torigoe to find out. Watch tonight at 8 and 10 p.m. ET on AC360°.
Anderson Cooper goes beyond the headlines to tell stories from many points of view, so you can make up your own mind about the news. Tune in weeknights at 8 and 10 ET on CNN.
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