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The Justice Department is stepping in after police officials in polygamous towns in Utah and Colorado reportedly rounded up non-church members’ dogs and shot them in a “slaughter pit.”The department filed a federal civil rights case last week against Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz., claiming city officials are discriminating against any residents who don’t belong to the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, the Wall Street Journal Law Blog.
The lawsuit, via WSJ Law Blog, claims the towns’ authorities have denied non-church members housing, police protection, and access to public spaces.
FLDS is one of the largest Mormon fundamentalist sects whose members often practice polygamy. The church uses revelations from God to assign young women a husband and expects those women to be obedient to their husbands.
The Justice Department said town authorities were operating under the direction of incarcerated church leader Warren Jeffs.
Jeffs is serving a life sentence after he was convicted in 2011 of child sex and bigamy.
Ex-FLDS member Andrew Chatwin praised the lawsuit, saying he has been subjected to discrimination.
“I can’t even use the Hildale clinic that (is) here,” he told FOX 13. “I have to travel a half-hour, 45 minutes just to get a doctor’s visit.”
But the towns don’t agree.
“Obviously, this is an extreme exercise of federal power for which the citizens of Hildale, the taxpayers of Hildale, will have to pay dearly,” Hildale attorney Peter Stirba claimed.
The attorneys general of both states have pledged to fully cooperate with the Justice Department’s investigation.
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