COLORADO CITY, Ariz. - As a federal lawsuit against the towns of Hildale and Colorado City comes closer, residents said members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are using intimidation to try and get former members to leave.
Isaac Wyler is a former member of the FLDS Church, but he still calls Colorado City home, which is why he said it’s so frustrating when intimidation tactics are used to try and get him to leave.
“They had packed my fuel tank full of sugar,” Wyler said. “And was trying to get my truck to seize up or something on the freeway.”
Wyler said they’re used to intimidation from current members, but he said it had died down a bit when Warren Jeffs was put in prison. Recently, Wyler said acts of aggression have picked up again.
On Tuesday, a trailer sitting on industrial park property caught fire. The owner of that trailer, another former church member, said Mojave County Sheriff’s detectives and the Arizona Attorney General’s Office are investigating the incident as arson.
“They [FLDS Church members], I think are feeling threatened,” Wyler said. “I think they’re finally realizing that the state case and the federal case are actually a big hammer over their head.”
That federal case was filed by the justice department last year against the local governments. The lawsuit alleges the cities’ non-FLDS residents are discriminated against when it comes to police, housing and utilities.
“It’s right here and now,” Wyler said. “It’s not in the future, the bridge is here, And I think that’s probably one of the biggest reasons that they’re bumping things up and they’re trying to get people, I’ve had a lot of people just tell me get out of here.”
Wyler said while some have left, even overnight, others, including himself, are staying and hope that as the federal case pushes forward, FLDS members and Warren Jeffs will realize they’re fighting for their town.
“Somebody’s got to say something,” Wyler said. “So, I’m doing the best I can, and others are too. A lot of people are standing up to him now.”