Courtney and Nicole Mallery, who own the Freedom Acres Ranch, say they have been the target of racist and destructive attacks on their ranch in El Paso County. Courtney Mallery addresses rallygoers who gathered in support of the couple at the Colorado Capitol in Denver on Feb. 17, 2023. (Andy Bosselman for Colorado Newsline)
Supporters of a Black family who say they have been victim to racial harassment at their El Paso County ranch and discrimination from local law enforcement gathered for a rally at the Colorado Capitol in Denver on Friday demanding a resolution to the conflict.
“I just want to farm in peace,” Courtney “CW” Mallery told the crowd in Denver.
Mallery and his wife, Nicole, own land in Yoder, about 30 miles east of Colorado Springs, where they farm and ranch. They claim that a white neighbor, Teresa Clark, has been terrorizing and harassing them due to their race, and that the local sheriff’s office is discriminating against them in the dispute.
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The Mallerys claim that multiple animals have been killed on their property and that they have faced intimidation from neighbors and members of the community over the past two years. They claim that the sheriff’s office has been no help.
They were both arrested last week for felony stalking on Clark’s property and were released on bond, according to Colorado Public Radio. Since then, organizations including the NAACP Colorado Montana Wyoming State-Area Conference and the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Colorado Holiday Commission have lent their support to the Mallerys.
After the Mallerys’ story went viral on social media, the El Paso Sheriff’s Office denied allegations of racism and framed the case as a land dispute between two neighbors who liberally call the police and file reports against one another. Between August 2021 and September 2022, the office received 46 calls from Clark, 47 calls from Nicole Mallery and 11 from Courtney Mallery. They released over 100 pages of records related to the dispute.
The office characterized the story as “misinformation and mischaracterization” during a Feb. 14 press conference.
“They don’t want it to look like what it really is — a modern day, Jim Crow, old boys network. A police department that doesn’t want to investigate $200,000 worth of vandalism, animals being slaughtered and folks talking about lynching in the year 2023,” Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday Commission Chair Vern Howard said at the Friday rally.
Rallygoers expressed support for the Mallerys and advocated for the passage of legislation called the CAREN Act, which stands for Caution Against Racially Exploitative Non-Emergencies. It would create a civil penalty for people who call the police on people of color when there’s “no reason to believe a crime or offense, or imminent threat to person or property, is occurring.”
That bill has not been introduced in the Colorado General Assembly. New York adopted a similar law in 2020.
Democratic state Sen. Tony Exum, who represents Colorado Springs, said he called the sheriff when he heard about the Mallery case and said that a one-sided narrative has developed. He committed to tracking the case.
“We’re going to change that. We’re going to make sure the Mallerys are treated fairly,” he said Friday. “They have a right to be there and to expect to be treated fairly by the sheriff’s department.”
Democratic Reps. Naquetta Ricks of Aurora and Regina English of Colorado Springs also appeared at the rally.
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