At 4 a.m. on Sunday, July 26, state and federal authorities swooped into Short Creek, as the communities were then known. A total of 388 people - 39 men, 86 women and 263 children - were arrested or taken into state custody.
Boastful newspaper headlines in Utah and Arizona claimed the "nest of polygamists" had been wiped out.
But newsreels showing photos of children being yanked from their parents created a backlash. Widespread scorn eventually forced Gov. Howard Pyle of Arizona out of office. By year's end, the men had returned home after pledging to give up polygamy and being placed on probation. Most women and children spent two years in Arizona as wards of the state, then returned.
The debacle led to a "hands off" public policy regarding polygamy for the next 50 years.
But beginning in 2000, after FLDS leaders rejected calls from Utah and Arizona to stop marriages between men and underage girls, that policy changed. State actions included takeover of the school district and the sect property trust, and prosecution of men and leader Warren S. Jeffs for underage marriages.
Officials also launched a social services outreach to help people wanting to leave polygamous communities. -
Pamela Manson and Brooke Adams