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LDS STATEMENT SOUGHT TO QUELL RACIST THREAT

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A civil rights activist asked LDS Church leaders Friday to help defuse a volatile situation in southern Utah.

A group of skinheads moved to Hurricane, Washington County, about two months ago, saying they want to create a whites-only homeland in Zion National Park. Hurricane residents are nervous about the newcomers, and frayed tempers could easily erupt into violence, says Nancy Diner, assistant director of the Anti-defamation League of B'nai B'rith.Diner came to Salt Lake City to ask leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to issue a statement urging tolerance. "We're hoping the church will issue a statement of multiculturalism, diversity and racial acceptance. So far, there have been no problems in Hurricane, and the last thing we want is a Weaver-like situation."

White supremacist Randy Weaver was arrested last month after an 11-day standoff at the family's remote, northern Idaho cabin. Johnny Bangerter, one of the Hurricane skinheads, went to Idaho to support Weaver. During the standoff, Weaver's wife, son and a federal marshal were killed.

A strong statement from the LDS Church may head off similar violence between the skinheads in Hurricane and those who disagree with their opinions, Diner said. She felt intervention was necessary as she had heard from a law enforcement officer that the skinheads had already experienced "yell bys," and she was concerned the group might retaliate.

LDS Church spokesman Joseph Walker said Friday the church is planning to issue a statement early next week.