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Blacks Receive LDS Priesthood

Article Index
Blacks Receive LDS Priesthood
Brigham Young Misrepresented
Better Late Than Never
Shooting of Officer Olson
Problem in Brazil
Revelation Evades Real Issue
Is The Priesthood Lost?
Impact of Revelation
Other Related Links


The Mormon leaders' fear of the threat Mr Wallace presented to the Church seems to have led to a tragic incident where a policeman was accidentally shot and permanently paralyzed. This occurred about the time of the Church's conference held in April, 1977. On April 5, 1977 the Salt Lake Tribune reported:

"Mormon dissident Douglas A. Wallace charged Monday that a Salt Lake City police officer, shot early Sunday was keeping surveillance on him in a nearby residence.

"Acting Police Chief Edgar A. Bryan Jr. denied it.

"He said his men were not keeping surveillance on Mr. Wallace, a excommunicated member of the Church...but he would not say what the stakeout's purpose was.

"Officer David W. Olson remained in critical condition Monday at St. Mark's Hospital, where personnel said he suffered a severed spinal cord from a single shot in the neck. The policeman was shot accidentally by his partner,... Wallace was staying at the home of a friend, Dr. John W. Fitzgerald, 2177 Carriage Ln. (4600 South).

"He was in Salt Lake City to try to make an appearance at the LDS World Conference last weekend. Attorneys for the church, however, obtained a temporary restraining order...which prevented the dissident from visiting Temple Square.

"'I have not committed any crime, and I don't intend to commit any crime. I hove been raised in the Mormon faith and I am a man of peace...This is not Russia; this is not Nazi Germany; there is no reason why I should be under surveillance of the police,' Mr. Wallace said."

The following day the Salt Lake Tribune related: "Ex-Mormon Douglas Wallace, who claims the wounding of an undercover police officer was done while police held surveillance on him, Tuesday afternoon said he will subpoena various high ranking police and sheriff's deputies to establish the fact....

"Mr. Wallace said also, 'It is clear from the evidence that we have uncovered that I was under surveillance. The police department's denial of that simply compounds the wrong. Is this going to be Salt Lake's sequel to the Watergate scandal?'" (Salt Lake Tribune, April 6, 1977)

With Mr. Wallace and his attorney pressing them hard, the police were finally forced to admit the truth about the matter:

"Salt Lake City police officers admitted Thursday that the accidental wounding of an undercover officer occurred during surveillance of Mormon dissident Douglas A. Wallace....

"Reports released Thursday by both the county sheriff's office and the county attorney show that six officers were on stakeout around the John W. Fitzgerald home...where Mr. Wallace was staying.

"The lawmen were paired up in three police vehicles and two of those were parked close together in opposite directions..." (Salt Lake Tribune, April 8, 1977)

Those who know Mr. Wallace find it strange that there should have be so many policemen on the surveillance crew watching him at 4:20 a.m. A subsequent story in the newspaper reported that the "lawmen...had been on duty for 16 straight hours, Chief Willoughby said." (Ibid., April 15, 1977)

At any rate, Wallace claimed the Mormon Church was behind the whole affair: "Ex-Mormon Douglas Wallace Friday renewed his assertion that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was behind April police surveillance of Mr. Wallace that led to the accidental shooting of a Salt Lake City police officer." (Ibid., Sept. 17, 1977) Finally, David Olson the disabled police officer, took exception to a press release issued by the Church. In a letter to the Editor of the Salt Lake Tribune, Jan, 18, 1978, Mr. Olson made a direct attack on the President of the Church:

"I would also like to thank Spencer W. Kimball for his incorrect press release concerning the police involvement combined with the LDS church's efforts to restrict Douglas A. Wallace from the temple grounds, specifically the Tabernacle, on April 3, 1977.

"His denial of these actions is wrong. Any man who can take such actions and still call himself a prophet deserves more than I to be confined t this wheelchair."

Douglas Wallace filed lawsuits amounting to millions of dollars against the Mormon Church, and although he has not been able to prevail against the Church in the courts, the publicity surrounding the suits has caused the Church no end of trouble. We feel that his actions and the embarrassment they have caused the Church have played a part in bringing about the decision to have a new "revelation."

Another Mormon who has put a great deal of pressure on the Church is Byron Marchant. Mr. Marchant took a very strong stand against racism in the Church. The Dallas Morning News for Oct. 20, 1977 reported:

"SALT LAKE CITY (AP)--The man who cast the first vote in modern history against a leader of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has been excommunicated and fired as church janitor.

"Byron Marchant, 35, of Salt Lake, is the second opponent of the church policy withholding the priesthood from blacks to be excommunicated in the last two years."

When Mr. Marchant tried to distribute literature at Temple Square at the next conference he was arrested:

"Byron Marchant, excommunicated members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was arrested Sunday at 1:45 p.m. at Temple Square of charges of trespassing,....Marchant was requested to leave the church grounds after he offered literature to people waiting in line for admission to the 2 p.m. session of general conference, Mr. Gibbs said. J. Earl Jones, director of security for the Mormon church reportedly advised Mr. Marchant he was on private property and asked him to leave. When Mr. Marchant refused, Mr. Gibbs said police officers were contacted and Mr. Marchant was placed under arrest at approximately 1:45 p.m." (Salt Lake Tribune, April, 3, 1978)

Mr. Marchant published a sheet in which he called for demonstrations against the Church's policy:

"Next October Conference (1978) I will join all interested in a march on Temple Square in Salt Lake City. In the event that the Mormon Church decides to ordain worthy Afro-Americans to the priesthood this demonstration will be a sort of celebration. A demonstration of support. In the meantime, every person and/or group concerned about Utah Racism is encouraged to speak out and attend the October protest."

Mr. Marchant's threat of a demonstration at the next conference may have caused Mormon leaders to think more seriously about having a new revelation. The general authorities seem to have a real fear of demonstrations around Temple Square. Although Mr. Marchant is probably a peaceful man, the issue concerning blacks in the Mormon Church was so explosive that the slightest incident could have touched off a riot where innocent people could have been injured. We think that the Church was wise to change its policy before the demonstration.

However this may be, when the Mormon Church yielded Mr. Marchant dropped a civil suit: "Following Friday's announcement that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will allow blacks to receive the priesthood, Byron Marchant, longtime advocate of such a policy, dropped a civil suit filed against Church President Spencer W. Kimball Wednesday.

"Marchant was suing President Kimball for not appearing as a witness in a case currently pending against Marchant....Marchant was suing the Mormon Church president for $100 for not appearing after being subpoenaed to testify in the case. Marchant's subpoena was quashed Thursday." (Salt Lake Tribune, June 10, 1978)

Another article in the same issue of the Tribune observed that "The last three years have also seen repeated attempts by church dissidents to subpoena Mormon leaders into court proceedings, with the central issue often related to the church's belief about blacks."