Added 4/26/08 9:14 A.M.: A Citizen of Eldorado commented to let me know I had mis-spelled the name of the city. Eldorado is ONE word. My BAD. Also there is another news outlet online available that's even MORE local than San Angelo's Daily Paper. The Eldorado Success is available online. According to my commenter, this published weekly. They have been reporting on the YFZ Ranch, the Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints and their activities on the ranch and in Eldorado for the last four years. When the search was being executed, they were giving updates as often as new events were coming to light. The Dearly Beloved is checking the sight as I'm writing this, and some of the pics I'm seein' are AWESOME!
Thanks ever so much to the Proud Eldorado Citizen.
Y'all can thank my long-time friend and former partner-in-crime, gbro, for this one. In his comments on “A Modern Tragedy” he urged me to blog on this subject.
For those of you coming late to the party...some background may be in order:
The FLDS was founded in 1935 by two excommunicated Mormons: John Y. Barlow and Joseph White Musser. Barlow subsequently became the group's first leader. Roulon T Jeffs became the FLDS' second leader. He died in 2002 at the age of 92. His son, Warren Jeffs, (1956 -) then took over. Warren was previously the principal of Alta Academy, a FLDS religious high school which is now closed. [www.religioustolerance.org/flds.htm]
Young Warren, y'all may recall, got hisself in a spot of trouble:
The arrest of Warren Steed Jeffs appears to have sent a shockwave through the membership of
the FLDS. Many members had thought that God would protect him from arrest.
One item that is liable to cause much consternation and even loss of faith in Jeffs' leadership was
rarely reported in the media: When Jeffs was arrested, he was wearing an apparently very
comfortable pair of shorts and white T-shirt. One of his wives who accompanied him was dressed in slacks. Both asked to be able to change into their regular religious clothes before being photographed. Members of the FLDS are required to wear white religious undergarments and are totally covered except for their hands and head. [ibid]
Now, you can use the search engine of your choice and read all the National News outlets stories
about the goings on out at the YFZ [Yearning for Zion, the title of a song written by Warren Jeffs] Ranch outside of El Dorado [pronounced: el doe ray' doe, btw]. And I know that all the motels, hotels and restaurants in Angelo are gettin' lots of business from funny talkin' folks from New York, Atlanta, and Hell Ay. BUT, if you want the bestest, most up-to-date, really know their stuff news about what's goin' on at the Ranch, or on the Schleicher [that's the CORRECT spelling CNN] County Courthouse steps, go here . These boys and girls LIVE there. They KNOW the deputies, the CPS workers, the lawyers, the judge, the court clerks. They eat at the same restaurants, they go to the same churches, they take their kids to the same daycares, and schools, they see each other at social events.
Click on any story and on the left side of the page, there will be a green sidebar. Within that
green sidebar are links to two affidavits. The first is from the CPS Investigative Supv. and is titled, “Affidavit in Support of Original Petition for Protection of a Child.” The second is from a Texas Ranger and is titled, “Affidavit for Search and Arrest Warrant.”
It was common knowledge out in El Dorado and Angelo and all the little towns around there that
these folks had ARMED men guarding their ranch. They also had night vision goggles and it was rumored they had motion detectors and infra-red and all sorts of other tech-toys to keep the curious and high spirited “double dogged dare ya” teens off their property.
So when I read a headline on CNN :”Police storm temple at polygamist ranch” or Fox's
headline:”Images show police well armed for raid on polygamist retreat” ; it just naturally pisses me off! What the MULTI-agency task force did was LEGALLY enter the 1691.11 acre Yearning for Zion Ranch. And if my husband, or son, or brother was one of the Law Enforcement Officers going out to a 1,691 acre ranch to assist in serving the legally issued Search and Arrest warrant that was guarded and defended by people who could be called, reasonably [I think] religious zealots, I'd want an APC to be part of the available resources.
WHY? Just in case the number of officers necessitated by the size of the ranch and the number
of its residents caused the guards to open fire on the officers. I would feel safer knowing the officers in front could take cover in and behind an armored vehicle.
And think about that acreage for a moment... How many of you City Dwellers have the remotest
concept of how vast One Thousand, Six Hundred, Ninety-one and eleven-tenths acres really IS? Since a square mile is equal to 640 acres then it is 2.64 square miles. Within that 2.64 were numerous structures: dwellings; storage buildings; an infirmary; and other buildings named in the search warrant. And all those men, women, adolescents, and children.
For those of you who have never served a search warrant, or known someone who has, it is an
awesome responsibility. I don't know any LEO who has ever taken it lightly. In the re-telling, they may make editorial comments about the state of the environment in which some folks live, or force their children to live, but they never make light of the responsibility incumbent upon them to gather evidence and maintain a chain of custody in the gathering.
In the circumstances such as those at the YFZ Ranch compound, the difficulties of the search mushroomed because of all that area, all those buildings, all those people, the number of minors especially infants, toddlers, and very young children to be removed. What the media has not made clear, and what most of the letters commenting on news articles, and some blogs I have been reading don't mention and don't seem to even KNOW is that CPS investigators and the Texas Ranger assigned to this case [both women incidentally] went to the Ranch and talked to the “leader/s” and were allowed to walk around the Ranch, with them BEFORE the “raid”.
What has been termed by sensationalists as a “raid” was in actuality the lawful execution of a
Search Warrant, applied for by the Texas Ranger based on evidence seen when she had been to the Ranch with the CPS worker and information she had been given from confidential sources. While investigating the call from one teenager [which it turns out now may have been a hoax] these other pregnant teenagers were observed at the Ranch. Once they and other teenage Mothers were taken into State custody THEN the extent of the sexual and physical abuse of the teenage girls began to reveal itself. As my personal prediction, I don't think we've heard the full extent of horrors from El Dorado. I think the more time these young women spend away from the cult [and make NO mistake, this is a Religious CULT] the more information they will be willing to share with authorities about what was done to them.
Now, I have read several comment to the effect that this is Religious persecution because this is
not a “State Approved Religion.” Hmmm? Let's see... is polygyny legal? Nope, not the last time I checked. But...if a man can support more than one wife..and all these wives are willing and of legal age...OOPS! The FLDS has the wives and mothers who are not legally wed to the fathers of their children apply for Welfare Benefits under whatever name Aid to Families with Dependent Children goes by in whichever state they happen to reside. So it would seem that the men in the FLDS who practice polygyny [I know it's nit-picky, but that it a more accurate term for having more than one wife.] CAN'T or WON'T actually support their extra wives and all those chirrens. And it would seem that out at El Dorado, some of those wives and Mothers are under the age of consent. Now as of either 1999 or 2001[I couldn't tell from the notes in the citation], the age of consent in TX was raised to 17, but even before that it was 16, I think.
But, in any case, Dale Barlow, nor any other man named in the Arrest warrant has been
arrested, yet. However, he IS in violation of his Arizona probation and Texas law by not registering as a Sex Offender with local Texas Law Enforcement Officials. If he is the Baby-Daddy of any of the babies belong to any of the teen moms or he fathered any of the babies in utero of any of those girls who were under 17 when they conceived ... then he and any other adult male who committed child rape should be arrested and charged with sexual assault of a minor.
Lest any of you think I am a religious zealot: the very instant the Babtists start performing
“spiritual” unions of teen girls to 40 and 50 y.o. Men with at least one wife, already and let him consummate their “union” and Praise GOD when she conceives a child out at Glorietta [the only Babtist Summer camp I know]; or the Church of Christ starts pulling the same crap at Camp Paluxy [the only CoC camp I know] I will be screaming and burnin' up my keyboard with invective. So bring it, if you feel you MUST make those facetious accusations.
Oh, and you polygynous apologists, I do NOT want to hear about how happy and well mannered all the little cult children are. Or how smart they are, how well they are doing in their “studies.” When the home school curriculum does not have to be approved by the State Board of Education and none of these kids is going to be allowed to seek education beyond that supplied by the cult...I'm sure they DO know how to read and write and do math. They know their Bible, or the parts Warren Jeffs and his ilk want them to know, anyway.
But tell me this, do they know how to think in the abstract? What do they know of the outside world other than what their Elders have told them? What sort of technological skills do they have? And that's not even touching on the psychosocial development.
What do the boys who don't “measure up” do when they reach the age of 18 and are thrown out into the world? Where do they go? How do they make their way in the world with little education and no real skills for a modern world? Up until now the main focus of the media has been on the pregnant teens and the teen Mothers. But what about the boys? Where is the outcry
over them? They are either groomed to become sexual predators of girls they have been given
as wives when they reach the age of 18, or they are expelled from the group.
I started out wanting to refute several points that had disturbed me that I've read or heard
since this whole thing started:
1.) That Law Enforcement Officers went to the ranch in some kind of “para-military” over-
the-top show of force “raid”. Although I rambled around some I think I pointed out that because of the sheer physical size of the ranch and the number and ages of the folks living there; the number of officers was necessary. They wore body armor b/c they always wear body armor,[I personally know several officers who wear body armor whenever they are on patrol, period] and given the armed guards, it was certainly appropriate in this case. The mil. surplus APC was there “just in case” somebody at the Ranch with a weapon got anxious at the sight of those Officers from the Schleicher County S.O. and D.P.S. and Angelo P.D. and a Texas Ranger and gawdess knows how many CPS workers to take custody of the chirrens and fired off a shot or
three or more. Thank Heavens it WASN'T needed! But...would you have wanted to be the commander who had to notify the family of the officer who was killed because the APC was sittin' back in town instead of at the scene?
2.) That these folks are being “persecuted” because their religion isn't State approved. That is
the stinkiest pile of horseshit I have heard in a long time. Texas is pretty much a live and let live state...well except for Austin, Dallas and Houston. But shoot a mile and walk back, especially out in West Texas, where El Dorado is, as long as you're not abusin' kids or animals or expectin' somebody else to support you while you practice your religion, go for it! Dance nekkid in the moonlight covered in goat's blood as long as you paid for the goat, killed it without torture, and the kiddies and neighbors can't see your nekkid butt...we don't care. And that's where the FLDS screwed up. They involve minors and have their wives sign up for welfare.
So, I've had my say...any comments?