Video on community of Westcliff, Colorado reactions to FLDS compound in the area.
Carol Lawrence of the Colorado Springs Gazette went to Westcliffe, Colorado to get the reaction from people there to the presence of a FLDS compound outside of town. She was unable to get anyone to comment at first, then did get some statements from a few area residents and the under sheriff. Quotes from the video:
Brandon Heising: “Hey, to each his own. Freedom of religion, right?”
Craig Feldmann, Custer County Under Sheriff: “At this point we have no indications that they are doing anything illegal or that justifies us taking any kind of action toward anybody in their organization. At this time they are being treated as anybody else in the county. . . . .” Later in the clip he is shown saying that the compound is “very clean, very nice, they’ve done a lot of work to it. Real nice place.”
Steve, the Concrete Finisher: “They don’t drink, they don’t smoke, they don’t cuss, they don’t live like that — right? . . . . Do I have a problem with them? No, I don’t have a problem with anybody.”
Myke and Jim Jones, distant neighbors at the Bull Domingo Ranch say they are concerned about the young girls and that they believe the FLDS does “have a tendency to kick out the boys when they are 12 or 13 . . . just kicking them out on the street. . . .if you are going to have six or seven wives, why do you need a bunch of boys running around?”
One commenter believes the FLDS picks rural communities because they “do not have real good police powers or zoning laws.” He says the FLDS depends on the state for their wells, so if they are violating the water or sewer regulations, it would be a problem for the state engineer.
Another commenter: “Everyone’s got to do their own thing, right? Whatever makes you happy.”
Wanda Christian felt that some groups move into the Westcliffe area thinking that people there are “not intelligent and don’t know what’s going on in the outside world and they will be able to pull the wool over our eyes.”
When the FLDS compound was raided in Eldorado, Texas, authorities discovered under-age girls who were pregnant and some had already given birth. This situation is known to be common to all FLDS compounds. When girls under the legal age of consent are pregnant and have given birth, that in itself is evidence of sexual assault on a child. So where is the dilemma? What is the problem in communities that tolerate these crimes happening under their noses and excuse themselves from responsibility on the basis that it is “freedom of religion.”
The safe assumption is that minor girls who are pregnant or are underage mothers live in the compound outside Westcliffe. There a numerous stories from women who took risks to runaway from the FLDS life. It is not inconceivable that throwaway boys or runaway girls from the FLDS compound would turn up in our rural communities looking for help. Do we know where they could turn? What kind of help can they get? How will they know where to go?
The comments in the video from the people who weren’t afraid to speak to Ms. Lawrence aren’t very encouraging. And the fact that others didn’t want to speak out at all is telling.
Thanks to Ms. Lawrence for getting this story. Maybe she can contact some of the domestic violence shelters in the area and ask if they are prepared to assist runaway “wives.