Black rancher fixes a horseshoe. Photo credit: Rodnae Productions on Pexels

Get out. Black Colorado ranchers face domestic terrorism by local whites who they say are trying to steal their land

8 mins read

A Black couple rebuilt their lives after losing everything in a hurricane. They never thought they’d be thrown into a fight for their ranch and possibly their lives in a predominantly white and hostile Colorado county.

Every night on Freedom Acres Ranch is a gamble of life and death for Black cattleman Courtney W. Mallery and his wife Nicole. As of late, he most likely will find tools destroyed, a prized calf stolen, or one of his hogs with their entrails spewing from slit bellies. 

Beheaded and butchered goat carcasses are a common sight. Recently, his newly-born calf vanished. Not long ago, the mother of his Pyrenees puppies was poisoned along with several pigs. Often, he picks up animal remains on the farm and has had to put out fires like when the chicken coop was set ablaze.

To make the situation more tenuous, the Mallery’s fence has been damaged over 10 times. Frequently, they must replace surveillance equipment after they see strangers pointing a device towards their cameras which ends up jamming them and taking out the signal. Plus, their electricity lines have been cut and neighbors have stolen well water by running an illegal line from their source.

One day, Courtney was chased by a white man when repairing a portion of his fence. The aggressor, who was in a car, gunned for Courtney who made it to his vehicle in just enough time to dash away in a hellish pursuit. Once he made it to the end of his property, the man steered the other way.

One evening, Nicole was followed by a white woman who almost ran her car off the road then put on high beams and pulled out what looked like a gun. The confrontation was exceptionally unnerving because Nicole was returning from a church function with her visiting nieces and nephew.

Once or twice a week, strange white people drive slowly by their ranch, stop and take pictures or video, and sometimes brandish guns at them. The couple is frequently followed; especially while they are in town. As a result, they rarely travel and are mindful at what time. Clearly, they are unwanted. 

“Even the post office workers ask us why we’re here,” says Courtney. A regular phrase told to Courtney is that “he has a lot of the balls” to purchase land in the mostly white community.

“What puts me on edge is that everyone knows us and how we look, but we don’t know them,” Courtney tells Ark Republic.

This is just some of the reports of terror the Houston transplant says his family has experienced since the purchase of a 1,000 acre ranch in El Paso County Colorado in August 2020. Courtney Mallery alleges he and his wife have been the target of local whites who want them off of their land.

“It’s like I’m being tormented for doing God’s work,” says Mallery who is exhausted because his family has not slept for months from keeping night watches. Added to the everyday toil of keeping an active ranch, they are constantly repairing the damage done on and to the ranch.

| Read Get Out Part 2. “I stood naked with my shotgun.”

Murdered animals are commonly found on Freedom Acres Ranch, a Black owned farm that says local whites are terrorizing them. Photo credit: Courtney Mallery

When asked why he thinks he’s being targeted, Courtney claims the rural community wants to “steal his land”; especially after he turned down numerous requests to lease his acreages to local whites. To worsen his predicament, he alleges that El Paso County officer, Sergeant Emery “Ray” Gerhart, has been complicit in the concerted effort to move his family off of their land, and even participates in the ongoing racialized actions. 

On multiple occasions, the county sheriff is captured on Freedom Acres Ranch footage in his patrol car driving around the perimeters of the Mallery property. Ironically, he has yet to take a police report from the Mallery’s for their numerous complaints of trespassing strangers, animal deaths, theft on their property and list of other offenses. Courtney told Ark Republic that Sgt. Gerhart has even forbidden them from using a portion of their land for their ranching enterprise.

“As the only Black farmer in the area, it’s become evident that our skin color and race are the only driving factors of this extreme racism, discrimination and harassment. No other farmers have been approached or have had any of our experiences,” stated Courtney in a petition to get Sgt. Gerhart fired. An update revealed that Gerhart was promoted as a sergeant from the deputy sheriff position.

For two years, the Mallerys have lived in fear and rage. Courtney even went to the state commissioner’s meeting to complain when his numerous calls to local law enforcement went unheard. Nothing happened. He believes it is because “they are all related” through marriage, blood or multi-generational kinship. 

However, the louder Courtney and Nicole got, the more aggressive the hostility became. “Gerhart told me that if I keep calling the police, he’s going to arrest me,” Courtney recounts just days before he discovered an arrest warrant had been issued to him and Nicole by Gerhat.

“We are upset, we are here to fight, but they’re trying to silence us and make us look like we’re crazy,” an exasperated Courtney told Ark Republic. “They [are] trying to steal my land and lock us up to cover this up.”

On Thursday, January 12, 2023 the Mallerys received a warrant filed on December 14, 2022 in the mail. Charges are stalking, tampering with a utility meter and petty theft. The letter states that they must turn themselves in and be prepared to pay a $2,000 bond. An update on the charges show that the stalking is a felony, while tampering with a utility meter is a Class 2 misdemeanor.

“This gives local authorities probable cause,” Dr. Rolanda Spencer told Ark Republic. Dr. Spencer is a social justice professor at Xavier University who has worked in criminal justice and re-entry for almost 20 years.

“The warrant now makes him a fugitive, and if he gets arrested, the holding time [for trial] will not be easy if there is already a history with the police being antagonistic,” she further explained. “Right now it is dangerous for them.”

Ark Republic reached out to El Paso County Sheriff’s communications director, but they have yet to respond.

My country tis of thee

The Mallerys received the warrant notice so late because they are in a state program that protects their identity following a 2021 doxing incident.  “It is the program that victims of domestic violence use when they are attempting to hide from their abuser,” explained Courtney.

Doxing is when someone’s personal information is revealed with malicious intent. On a Facebook community page connected to El Paso County residents, the Mallerys’ address was leaked along with a photo of Courtney. Multiple comments under the post suggested that the locals would defend “Merica” against “individuals that don’t know rights, rules and regulations.” 

Following the Facebook post of the Mallery’s personal information, sightings of whites trespassing and destruction to their ranch increased. “Fires, pitchforks, and ropes are familiar sights for my family,” wrote Courtney. 

As a result of the doxing, their phone numbers, personal addresses and emails are secreted. Any mail sent to their home is redirected to another address, thus the reason why they obtained the warrant almost a month after it was filed. Now a really ugly situation has escalated.

On Monday, they are attending a MLK holiday breakfast in Denver in hopes to galvanize more supporters outside of getting help from law enforcement. So far, Courtney has alerted the NAACP, the ACLU, and fellow church members. A staff member at the ACLU agreed to help but recently died. The NAACP has been mum, and church-goers have been doing prayer circles.

“I’m out here taking care of animals, but not getting any help,” exclaimed Courtney. “I am getting emotional and frustrated on my end.”

Courntey Mallery on Freedom Acres Ranch located in El Paso County Colorado. Photo credit: Courtney Mallery

One nation, very divisible, with liberty and land for some 

In 2017, the Mallery’s moved to Colorado after floods from Hurricane Harvey displaced them. Colorado was chosen because Courtney got accepted into the Veteran Teach program at the Community College of Denver, a campus that is part of the Colorado Community College system. “I was the only Black and male in my class, but I pushed through,” said Courtney who admitted to encountering racism while there, but he took it as the run-of-the-mill experiences of being Black in America.

When he finished in 2020, he and Nicole decided to stay and build a future. At the time, they were living in Strasburg, which is about 20 to 30 minutes outside of Denver, but they decided to go more inland. “Actually, I had a dream of being a National Geographic photographer when growing up, but I have a story like a lot of urban Black youth,” said Courtney whose roots are in Houston. “I grew up in the inner city, but my grand-parents were farmers. I chose a different path, but always had a love for agriculture.”

After the bumps and curves of youth, Courtney finished and re-sculpted his dream. “I knew I wanted to follow what my family did, I wanted to return to farming.” Rather than Texas, like many Americans, he and Nicole wanted to forge their legacies on new soil. Plus, there was another incentive to stay in Colorado.

“The land was cheap, and the landscape is beautiful,” said Courtney. “On the weekends I would ride through the countryside looking at different properties. Through my experience, there were particular things that I wanted.”

What he found out is that Pikes Peak, the range of Rocky Mountains in the state, had two sides. One was arid and dry, while the other had more moisture, which made it more suitable to farm. Added, the stony landscape carried a global reputation for its breathtaking views.

With a big vision in hand to carve out an estate that generations could use, the Mallerys hired a local realtor. They also did more research on the Black agricultural presence in the state. Since the Mallerys had been in Colorado for some years, they were starting to locate other Black ranchers and growers. At a Bill Pickett Rodeo event, Courtney spoke to other residents who told him that the cold weather made farming and ranching more challenging and for him “to be careful out there.” However, “they never said what to be careful about,” told Courtney.

The Mallerys found a property in 2020 and put in a bid, but the offer was rescinded when they found out they were Black, detailed Nicole. Eventually, the realtor directed them to a massive ranch that had been abandoned and in foreclosure. To sweeten the pot, the ranch was located on the side of the peak that was more damp.

“It was hard getting this land. The U.S.D.A. were not helpful and really did not want Black people to acquire that much land. We didn’t use most of the programs [available to us] but we bought land that we wanted to be in our family for generations,” said Nicole. 

Although the ranch sat in a picturesque location with fertile soil, “it had become a dump site,” said Courtney. The homestead became a waste repository for tires, old trailer parts and other refuse. People were taking whatever they could from the land, and the fence was in disrepair.

After driving to the land to inspect it before the purchase, he recalls stopping and taking a 360 degree view. Even though he’d never pursued his career dream job as a nature photographer, Courtney understood natural beauty all too well. Subsequently, the Mallerys took everything they had to purchase the land, knowing that they would recover back their money in profitable returns as ranchers raising beef cattle, pigs, goats and chickens for meat.

However, between the dead animals, loss in business and damaged property over the last two years, Courtney estimates he has lost $200,000, and is still hemorrhaging money.

Update on February 17, 2023

This is the first story in our agricultural beat on the challenges of farming by farmers of color. “Get out” is part one of a series covering Courtney and Nicole Mallery in their fight to keep their farm. Initially a two-part story, it is ongoing.

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  1. Where is this ranch exactly in El Paso county? Also that’s not the name of our sheriff. The guy you name is an ex sgt with the sheriff’a department. This seems really fake to everyone I’ve shown this story too. If it’s not you are doing the couple a disservice with your poor journalism. Please fix article and provide better details so people can help if needed.

    • The documents we have such as the petition and warrant are from Gerhart. We are not providing more information because at the time of the publish date, we were honoring their order of protection for privacy, just like your anonymous, no name email.

      • Have you validated said documents though? Warrants are never mailed out, they are served in person by the local police or sheriffs office to the address on the warrant. The warrant would also be issued by a judge, not a sheriff, and especially not a former deputy.

        The registered non-profit business address for operations is not located in El Paso County for this business, but rather Denver to a large multi-unit building in the middle of the city.

        You state that the ACLU, the NAAPC, the USDA, and nearly every local authority are uniformly ignoring this problem, however when we reached out to both the ACLU and NAACP they stated they have no knowledge of this incident. The local sheriffs office declined to comment.

        These are just a few discrepancies found in the article, if you’d like to cover them I’ve included links and an email where you can reach me.

        • One it is the NAACP, not the NAAPC. As well, there are multiple chapters to both, so who you reached out to and who they reached out to are probably different. Plus, organizations cannot speak for all members in their conversations about certain cases. These are ranchers who experienced an issue and sought help the best way they could, thus your background check does not invalidate the article. The story does not report them reaching out to the USDA, but them saying the USDA was not supportive in purchasing them property that large.

          If you read the story, you will see that they are in a program (documents provided) that protects their identity meaning, their addresses, their ownerships, etc are private; and are forwarded to them. So fun fact, you will not be able to find much.

          Rather than attempting to invalidate their story, perhaps you need to look to those who are creating this issue. Sadly, when Black people speak out their racism, it is often debunked without much looking at the alleged. This is a historical strategy to protect whiteness and white supremacy at all costs. As a 30-year media practitioner and media studies scholar, your movements are typical.

    • Guessing you thought the sheriff and the sergeant listed were the same person? Look at the punctuation man.

      Why would a family that is being harassed not want their location shown? Does that not make sense to you or are you just trolling?

      Do you brush off all accounts you hear because ‘they seem fake?’ Do you check journalistic integrity based off vibes?

      Lastly, ask yourself, do you know any people of color, if so, what is it about your character makes them dislike you?

  2. I fill this is a very sad situation they are faced with
    And unfortunately very discouraging that they don’t have free will to land and be stable for ignorance from low class minded people we are free to live and be mobilized any were your finances provide and give you stability to function and live . The people should receive you with open arms and the love of God . Love thy neighbor as you love thy self God said in His word 🙏🏽

  3. They’re hating these people for no reason. Even calling them the nword but the only nwords I see are the ones terrorizing those farmers.

  4. I am somewhat surprised that this would happen in the 21st century but not overwhelmingly surprised. I did look at the composition of the county and only 6% of the population is African American. In the past when I have observed blatant racism like this it is usually in an area with a predominantly white community. But I have seen cases involving horrific racial abuse even within the past few years which is why I am not overwhelmingly surprised. In the past, I have found that bringing media attention to it is a powerful way to fight it but here, the ranchers are apparently at risk of bodily injury so that could cause the harassment to increase.

  5. Seems to me these are Hate Crimes then why is the FBI civil rights Division not stepping in and dealing with the situation (800)224-5324 HATE CRIMES could it be since the Supreme voted against weeding out racist within the ranks of the military and law enforcement that they are waiting for Courtney and Nicole to come up missing and the story to quietly go away well not this time I’m telling everyone I know and telling them to tell everyone that they know we won’t stand for this in 2023 or never again .

  6. I’m not surprised. I would like to volunteer my time and service to help maintain the ranch. I won’t lie about who I am. If we don’t stand together right now, then all is lost.

    • I’m down I’m actually trying to get in contact with them just to stand there so people don’t get any ideas

  7. Thank you for covering this story. It is very unfortunate to see this happening in 2023 but, racism is one thing that has not died in all these years passed. All will have to stand before the Most High one day and give an account so, even if justice is not served for this couple here and now, it will be when God repays. Also, I see a few comments posted that are questioning the validity of this story and some of the facts presented. It seems to me that the ‘system’ goes to great lengths to protect the perpetrator(s) in these types of cases but yet when an independent news site, which we need more of, tries to bring these things to light, they are somehow discredited in what they present. Well, Ark Republic, keep reporting these types of stories. People need to be made aware so that we can help in some way. Thank you for what you do.

  8. These BLM “ranchers” seem intent to start a race war. They have no proof of outsiders doing anything that they couldn’t have done by their own hands.

    • Wow, Maurice…racist much??? They literally had enough proof to be put into a protection program you walnut. Try rubbing your last two brain cells together to kickstart them before commenting on the internet.

    • are you serious? its you and your kind starting it. your ignorance as well. BLM is not a ranch, its a statment. Black lives matter, and this ranchers does too. but your people are showing your true colors. savages

    • Hey Maurice? They are not “BLM” ranchers. They are ranchers. Who are also black. Clearly that bothers you a lot. What bothers me is that despite me seeing your comment on here, I’m surprised you were able to read and write, when apparently the 3 ganglions dangling inside your hollow skull couldn’t figure out the issue with what you just said. Done with their own hands? Why would ranchers already financially struggling start randomly killing their own animals and damaging their own property for no reason? Are you really this braindead? No. It’s just you trying to justify your racism.

    • Are you kidding??? They’re ranchers and they’re black! Not “blm ranchers” and the only people starting a race war are the whit e people constantly terrorizing them!! Stop being ignorant!

    • Have just drunl all the kool aid all by yourself, what the hell is blm farmer? Out all the things to get out of the story this what you come up with. America we are trouble big time.

    • It is blindingly obvious the Mallory’s are experiencing Hate Crimes. I wonder why the appropriate department within the FBI have not taken action, investigated, and/or done anything to protect this family against vicious racist terrorizing by that Sherriff’s Department, as well as the racist community members, intimidating the Mallory family. Everyone should express serious concern to their state and federal officials asking them to reach out to their colleagues within the Colorado system and impress upon them the urgency of this situation. As for me, I have brought this to the attention of various Senators and Governor’s offices asking them to do what they can to bring about an end to this blatant terrorism. The Mallory family are in physical danger. The local authorities, by every report I’ve read, is enabling, colluding, and conspiring with the racist community, even encouraging it. The Sherriff’s Department needs to be investigated. There must be severe consequences if ever we are to bring about change for the better. No one should be allowed to get away with causing harm to another.

    • That is because the whites are taking down their surveillance camera. these racist will never change! They are born in HATE, AND EVIL it’s in their hearts…

    • Sounds like you maybe one of the racist people terrorizing this family who only want to be left THE FUCK ALONE so they can live on their LEGALLY PURCHASED LAND…

  9. I am happy to see they are strong warriors, stay strong and fight and don’t let these racist white people put fear in you , that’s what they planned to do, nobodies scared of them, they want to run you off your own land when they stole all the land from my indian ancestors, they’re the trespassers, it always make me laugh when they say leave their land. When they are on stolen land, this is my people and my ancestors land, they are evil demons whom KARMA will deal with them for all their crimes against humanity, the world was a beautiful place until they escaped out the caucasoid mountains in Europe, since that day there has been nothing but chaos and destruction on earth. Racism is played out, most white people are tired of racist white people and think it’s lame, their the ones who are truly afraid because their power and hold over people is diminishing and they know it so don’t be fool by the illusion because their days of terrorism is coming to an end and there will be peace on earth once again.

  10. Hey Ark! Please post that there is going to be a protest in Denver on February 17th at the Capitol starting at 9am I think!! We must all stand up and speak up against this insane mentality and terrorism!!! Yes Kat, I hope Karma kicks them in the ass!!!!!

  11. it’s a damn shame that when Black people build something, racist people want to take it or destroy it. Why can’t people mind their business and not worry about what their Black neighbor have? When a Black person make a complaint about anything the person reviewing the complaint is usually a friend or family member of the person place or thing their complaining about. IF Blacks protect their property with guns like those people do it’s jail for a long time. Stuck like Chuck

  12. The names and numbers that need to be listed for more affective action are the local constituents to that specific area

    Sen.- Michael Bennet 303-455-7600

    Attorney General
    Phil Weiser – +17205086000

    Office of the sherif in El Paso County -719-390-5555 and 719-520-7100

    Please call these as well.

  13. Reading all about this American horror show, I’m praying these farmers are able to persevere and clear all this hate and dark forces from their land and lives. I like Courtney’s energy, he has deep strength of character and it shines through. In this context, something’s come to mind. These local racists would only get so viscous and go so far if there was an emotional context and real money or power associated with the land. What happened on that land between the days it was stolen from the indigenous people and it was bought out of foreclosure? The cop has some idea and assurance of entitlement expressed in white racist power cop privilege. Expose the deep history here and remove the cop and his hidden masters. Cleanse the land energetically. I pray for them to have a truly beautiful ranch one day.

    • Any remarks that encourage harm or share harmful information we remove, but we want this to remain an open forum to show the dialogue that takes place in the U.S. We remain steadfast in our commitment in 2017 to provide a platform for dialogue. That said, the conversation is needed and must continue.

  14. Is this an isolated racial situation or are other Black Ranchers in this area allegedly experiencing similar issues ? If so who and where are they.

  15. Maurice, The only people wanting any type of war are people of your mind who are biased against “others”. No one makes that kind of personal financial expenditure as the only people of color in a racist part of a state just to draw such attention to themselves that would put them in such harms way. Wouldn’t surprise me a bit to discover you were one of the residents terrorizing them. Leave it to a racist to victim blame.

    • You are on the ball J.D.Good job! I also am suspicious of Maurice. His past comment was spoken like a person who had an adversarial point of view coming into the conversation. I appreciate your comment.

  16. Beware. The cops have started with the first typical move- character assassination (so it makes people question and waiver in their support). There is over a century of documentation that records this exact situation, historically in the U.S, and we can’t let it happen again. Tulsa, OK; Rosewood, FL; Empire, WY and more.

  17. I’d like to take a trip up to Colorado and meet with the family or anyone connected with them. This issue needs to be addressed asap and correctly. Anyone with info please mention me.

  18. I am sickened to hear of the harassment of these hard working and generous people. I am embarrassed of these low life white trash people. What a message they are sending to their children. Stop the racism. I would love for them to be my neighbors.

  19. This is absolutely wrong ,the President should be called and told about this terrioist behavior and animal cruelty.the is the modern day hate against the brown people stay strong we are watching all over the world stand your ground the Most High will see you and your family and your land in safety of his works,

  20. I’m very upset to hear what has been going on in Freedom Acres Colorado we live in the UK and are appalled and sickened by the behaviour of individuals in Colorado

  21. Im from Fremont… Where all the cops are from in Colorado (literally my free populus is 70%+ law enforcement) (80%ish is incarcerated in my county) largest police presence on the face of the earth. I talk to these people, shop in their stores, and know their kids…. The El Paso story and any of that kind of sounding stuff is true. This kind of stuff has been happening to my business as well. Its systemic down here, I would help you in any way that I can!
    -Lee Dowsett

  22. It’s disheartening to hear what you both are facing, but our God is for fairness and for justice. I am reading from American Samoa and understood when you mentioned the beautiful nature and scenery and wanting land for your future generations. My husband and I drove from Atlanta to Alabama for a day, and loved the lush open lands that were available and for sale. Change is never easy, but is possible. I am praying for you from the islands, and prayerful your land and farm to be fruitful and bountiful for you and your family for generations.

  23. This is horrendous and terrifying. There are anti-racist groups mobilizing to help, so hopefully there will be enough noise made about what’s happening that something will happen soon. Hang in there and know there are people willing to do something to help you.

  24. Unfortunately, I have lived in the area. I would like to say things like doesn’t happen but they do. I knew the ranch hand whom what killed. This isn’t fair and one of the many reasons I left the area. Things are swept under the rug in El paseo county, not only by the sheriff’s department but by the legislature as well. Even the schools have corruption, throwing children who don’t fit in or are in the right family are put in saying they need special education. Yoder is where the land is cheap and the people go that don’t want to follow rules, where those that couldn’t handle living in town go to live.

  25. I was complete disgusted and disturbed by the way this couple was treated, but as I read on, the school was racist, the property owner was racists, then the USDA was racist, now the Police ..the neighbors.

    No one on their right mind would’ve relocated and stayed in a place where so many racists were making things difficult.

    So I now believe there’s no truth to this story at all.

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