Two black farmers in Colorado have been arrested on stalking charges after claiming to have been victims of a harassment campaign orchestrated by white neighbors and law enforcement.
Courtney and Nicole Mallery, of El Paso County, Colorado, have said they have been victims of racial abuse and “acts of vandalism and animal mutilation of their livestock.” They have also accused neighbors of killing a man who worked for them.
In a statement this week, the Mallerys said: “Unfortunately, there are still corrupt police officers and racist people who try to prevent minority farmers from using their farmland because of their race.”
The couple said police have not investigated their harassment claims, something the local sheriff’s office has denied. The Mallerys own nearly 1,000 acres in eastern El Paso County called Freedom Acres Ranch.
The Mallery’s dispute was first brought to national attention thanks to a January article published on the Ark Republic website. The disagreement between neighbors is said to be about a property line.
Nicole Mallery, pictured here, said this week: “We are being stalked, we are being harassed, we are being chased, we are being followed, spray paint has been used where they put “n*****” on items in our house ‘
Courtney has filed six restraining orders against a neighbor in their district, 9 News reports.
The station says the neighbor has filed a similar warrant against him, claiming she was harassed and stalked.
The neighbor in question was named Teresa Clark by Colorado Public Radio.
Courtney says Clark entered his property uninvited, pointed guns, damaged a gate and security cameras, and made threats on social media.
While Clark claims that Courtney hurt her horse and released some of her animals.
Nicole told CBS News, “We’re being stalked, we’re being harassed, we’re being chased, we’re being followed, spray paint has been used where they put “n*****” on items in our house.”
A GoFundMe effort set up by a relative of the Mallery’s, Geneva B., of Colorado Springs, has raised $60,000.
Geneva wrote on the page that the Mallerys set up their ranch after losing everything in Hurricane Harvey, a storm that devastated Texas and Louisiana in 2017.
She said the Mallerys are fighting for their land in “a predominantly white and hostile Colorado county.” The money raised will go towards improved security measures at the ranch.
The couple purchased the ranch in August 2020. Since the harassment began, Courtney told Ark Republic he estimates he has lost $200,000.
Courtney Mallery was released on bail on Tuesday following his arrest on charges of talking
Nicole Mallery filmed her husband’s arrest by state police
Nicole was later arrested on similar stalking charges, she was released an hour later
Mallery pictured himself with his animals, which he gave names like George Floyd, Breonna and Juneteenth
That page alleges that the pair are victims of a widespread conspiracy involving El Paso County Sheriff’s Deputy Sgt. Emory “Ray” Gerhart trying to drive the Mallerys off their land.
Courtney told Ark Republic that he has footage of Gerhart observing their property. He said, “Gerhart told me if I keep calling the police, he’s going to arrest me… They’re trying to steal my land and lock us up to cover this up.”
On the page for a Change.org petition created by Courtney asking for Gerhart’s firing, he says that someone who worked on his farm, Donaciano Amaya, was killed on his property and went to the couple to get him to find.
In May 2021, local media reported that Amaya’s death was being investigated as a homicide.
In his interview with Ark Republic, Courtney said that Amaya was found dead in their chicken coop and that after the “murder,” the farmer’s wife went missing. The couple’s son is now in the custody of relatives.
Donaciano Amaya, the Mallery’s accomplice, was found dead in their chicken coop in May 2021
Photos of the Mallery’s dead animals on their property
The couple claims their neighbors were responsible for the murders
Deputy Gerhart is married to Judge Shannon Gerhart who serves on Colorado’s 4th Judicial County Court.
Courtney says in the blurb of the petition that he is a veteran of the US Marine Corps. He continued, “Despite fighting for our country, my family and I have been threatened with lynching and hanging and now live in constant fear for our lives in rural Colorado Springs.”
Courtney was arrested Monday on a stalking warrant. His $6,000 bail was posted and he was released after spending a night in jail. Nicole was released about an hour after her arrest.
A judge ruled that one of the conditions for Courtney’s release was that he should not have any contact with his neighbours. Judge Deborah Pearson told the court, “The court is concerned about the risk to the victims and the community as part of this stalking case.”
Judge Shannon Gerhart of Colorado’s 4th Judicial County Court is the wife of one of the officers the Mallerys believe has been harassing them
Courtney Mallery is a Marine Corps veteran who purchased the ranch in August 2020
Courtney will appear in court again on February 14. His wife is due to appear in court on Thursday.
9 News is now reporting that the NAACP is investigating the Mallery’s claims. Rocky Mountain department president Portia Prescott told 9 News, “I really hope the El Paso County Sheriff’s Department and several others in the countryside understand that we are taking this very seriously.”
In a separate interview with CPR, Prescott said, “It’s a very sensitive situation. This has been going on since 2021, but escalated in March. You never know who is telling the truth and who is not.’
Prescott went on to say that the two sides are fighting over a property line that is not clearly defined by documents.
While the sheriff’s office said in a press release that they answered 170 calls involving the Mallerys and investigated 19 different complaints.
The office said they will release documents and bodycam video to substantiate their claims. At the time of writing, the materials have not yet been released.
One sentence of the press release read, “The El Paso County Sheriff’s Office strongly denies these allegations.”
According to CPR, El Paso County Sheriff Joseph Roybal is trying to have the Black and Latino Leadership Coalition mediate the dispute.