Rule Against Racial Discrimination in New Mexico
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In July 2017 Daniel and Cristina Mooney purchased 63 acres in a rural and remote subdivision in Fence Lake, New Mexico in search of a quiet and nature-centered atmosphere to take the next steps of our spiritual journey. We are both from California and have been searching for a beautiful quiet area like this since we left our home state in 2013. We came here with the goal of opening up a community garden to provide food in a food desert, and while we were here we held a holistic wellness retreat and opened a rural campground. Soon after we moved onto our remote land we were targeted by a group of 10-15 people who lived within and around the subdivision who were unhappy that we were here. We are younger than most of the landowners, we are a mixed brown/black couple, we purchased more land than most of the owners here and we have dreadlocs. We started meeting more landowners around us because one of the members of this group was walking onto private property with a hand on her gun, yelling, screaming and cursing when people didn't believe her about the "dangerous gun-totting Rastas". Additionally, the neighbors who did know this lady and also knew us started to try to force us to do things we didn't want to. They tried to coerce us to stop people in the roads with guns and question them about owning property in the subdivision. One of the people we spent lots of time with referred to their group as "The Mujeres Militia". After trying to force us to do things we didn't want to we stopped talking to almost everyone around the area.
Then in January 2018, we were visited by Cibola County Sheriff's Department as a result of people from this group filing over 100 Crimestoppers reports with lies like "They are growing hundreds of marijuana plants, making and selling meth, starting a cult and trafficking marijuana from Colorado." By March 2018 we were both arrested on false charges (which we are still in the process of fighting) and spent a week in jail after being arrested twice and having our pac of dogs impounded. When we got out of jail and made it to our mailbox we saw that the title company, Quest Title Company, and the real estate company, Santa Rita Land and Cattle Co. LLC, were giving us less than 10 days to pay $4,500 in past due payments from the previous 5 months we had lived on the property. We let them know that Quest Title Company in Grants, NM told us for months that our payment transfers were clearing and our account was current but Santa Rita owners did not respond. We also found out that Santa Rita had received several emails from members of this group stating that they want to find a way to make rules to keep people like us out of the subdivision, they stated they would do anything they could to take our land from us and kick us out of the subdivision. Emails from a member of this group to Santa Rita also stated that the group was "watching them with binoculars". We came up with the $4,500 as a result of our friends and extended family in Catron and Cibola County and chose to remain on the property out of our deep love for the land.
Unfortunately, the harassment continued. People from this group and Santa Rita have driven down private roads after dark, driven into our driveways, stolen memory cards and batteries from our game cameras as well as game cameras off of our property and gone out of their way to harass and try to intimidate our friends. Cibola County Officers never came out to look at the evidence of the robbery but "Cab Notes" were filed and a copy is in our possession as proof of the incident and how we are being treated within the subdivision and county. Associates of Santa Rita have gone to Daniel's job and made complaints about his work when there were not valid complaints to be made and the attempt to harass him at his workplace was witnessed by management. In June 2018 a Cease and Desist Order was filed against Santa Rita and their associates for the harassment, discrimination, retaliation, and conspiracy to take away our land like they're currently doing. On June 25, 2018, we also made payments to a past due amount of $1,900 and spoke with an employee of Quest Title Company who told us "The account will not go into a delinquent status as long as you are making payments."
July was rough for us. We were both working at the same restaurant and barely making enough money to pay for the gas. An online job Cristina was working, suddenly stopped without warning. And since the Sheriff of Cibola County posted pictures of our weapons and medication next to our business logos in March, we hadn't made any sales to bring in any income with our business. We kept working with the faith that the money would come when we needed it and then BAM! Cristina was offered a job. The employer failed to properly conduct a background check and on day 3 of this new job, which was going to cover all the past due and future payments on the property, Cristina was fired when the employer learned of the pending accusations that resulted from the false arrests in March. Then the online job came back into play and we were able to catch up on payments once our checks got here around August 3rd. August 6th we got our checks, deposited them and sent an email to Quest Title Company authorizing a $600 payment to the remaining balance of $700. In the same email, we let Quest Title know that we would be caught up to ALL of our payments, past and currently due, come August 18th. On August 7th we received an email from Santa Rita's lawyer stating that they had terminated our contract because we didn't meet the June 24th deadline for the past due amount, regardless of what Quest Title Company told us on June 25th. Our names were removed from the property in July 2018 and were never notified. We called Quest to confirm the past due amount and they told us that the contract had been terminated, we no longer had any rights to the property and in order to stay we would need to start a whole new contract with the seller. Monsoon season hit, Santa Rita wanted us off the property by September 7th. We reached out to New Mexico Legal Aid and they told us they could help but then never replied to any of the documentation we emailed in. We were told by our lawyer and everyone else that there was nothing we could do but there was no way we could move our things off the property in this deep clay mud, we would get stuck in a second. So we contacted the lawyers and they gave us until September 24th to be off of the property.
There is no way to express the deep deep sorrow and upset we're all experiencing over this. We've grown deeply connected to the land and our ancestors through the land which is the entire reason we came to this area in the first place. Our blood, sweat and tears, not to mention every dime we've made and every dollar invested by our loving supporters. Now we're being kicked off of the property when there are other landowners, who look like everyone else in the subdivision, that are 3 months past due on their land payments and are upset that our family is the only family going through this. Other white people notice the injustices happening to us, and they're more upset than we are because we've become accustomed to it. Unfortunately, we entered into a very poorly written contract that states we aren't awarded any equity or investments in the property should we default on the payments.
Luckily, we were taught to dig. The pain Cristina was feeling over growing to love the land so much and having it ripped away from people hating other people who are different, she found our rights. We learned that, by law, we have 20 days to respond to a Complaint entered against us. We met that guideline, but Santa Rita was pushing for us to be off the property by the 24th. Pushing very very hard. Likely because they knew that we had this 20 days to file a response and request for a hearing with the court on our own behalf, regardless if our lawyer was willing to represent us or not. Santa Rita was trying to force us to sign a second document agreeing to allow the Sheriffs to remove us from the property on the 24th, even though that is 3 days short of the 20-day deadline to file a response with the court. The document would have ultimately relinquished all of the rights we had with the court. This means that we have a right to a trial, which we exercised. And we have a right to have a judge review our supporting documents, which we have.
However, what about the 4-5 months they tried to collect in March? We never got any letters during that time telling us that our payments hadn't been made. Then this same poorly written contract states that we are responsible for notices from the date on the letter, regardless of the day we receive a notice. It wasn't until the 5-month delinquent notice was mailed back to Quest Title Company did we know about the delinquency because we never received the letter. Quest Title was holding on to proof that we never got it, the unsigned returned mail from the post office indicating that the mail was undeliverable. And still, they gave us less than 10 days to pay the delinquent balance. What about the other white landowners who are currently 3 months past due on their land payments? Why are WE being harassed over being less than a month's worth of payments late? Why was our payment denied? Because Santa Rita Land and Cattle Company has sided with the ringleader of this hateful group of people in the Mujeres Ranch Subdivision. This woman flips us the middle finger when passing us in the road and has been caught on video yelling at the car while flipping off our car, and this is also the person Santa Rita says they've "been friends with for many years. We can't see her making up anything like this." She's followed guests of our friends to their properties and stared them down, disregarded their greetings and spends most of her time fabricating information about our family and what we do on our property.
It's a lot of hate and negativity to take in, and we thank you for reading this far into our story. We realized that all the injustice that's been done to our family cannot be solved in a day, or a week or a year.
Today we ask that you sign this petition to ask Judge Rael of Cibola County District Court to rule in our favor. Our family has responded to the Complaint for Ejectment filed against us by Santa Rita Land and Cattle Company and asked that the Court override the civil contract and award us the investments we've made into the property: well, electric, and driveways. Santa Rita was initially willing to discuss a settlement and asked for an itemization of what we were asking for so we could be off of the property by the 24th of September, however, when they read our response indicating that we would provide the itemization if Santa Rita agreed, in writing, to honor the amount and not attempt to negotiate, they chose to file more motions with District Court for "speedy removal from the properties" and have claimed we are "denying petitioner possession of the property, the need to hire an attorney, expenses in monitoring the property, and the inability to use the property, in quiet enjoyment, as seen fit." While the filed document claims "the inability to use the property, in quiet enjoyment, as seen fit" the lot we are living on and the 3 lots we purchased around it are up on Santa Rita's website for sale.
This is all highly illegal, discriminatory, defamatory, racist, slander that Daniel and Cristina Mooney do not deserve. We've endured over a year of hatred, slander, libel, racial discrimination, aggravated stalking, harassment and false imprisonment. We poured everything we had into these properties. We paid for a 640 foot well to be installed on the property, we paid for an electrical pole with a 5th wheel outlet, we built rock and adobe fire rings, we installed a 40 foot shipping container, we spent hours and hours of our life for the past year clearing trees, moving rocks and boulders to make the 4 lots accessible and design them for our future plans. We cleared an area for our home, cleared walking paths, installed a dog run, cleared an area for chickens and we were just about to install a septic system that was going to water the wildflowers we planned to plant next season. We installed 2 greenhouses, 1 of which was destroyed during the raid by Cibola County Sheriff's Department and had built a tall shed we recently had to take down in order to leave the property we love.
All we are asking Judge Rael of the Thirteenth Judicial District Court in Cibola County for is the money invested in the property for things we can not take with us, the well, the electrical and the driveways. We are also asking you to sign in protest of the racial discrimination we're experiencing. We appreciate any words to our character from those of you that have known us or followed our journey on social media over the last 8 years. Please share anything you feel the court should take into consideration when making a ruling on our case. We're asking you to please take a small stance against real estate discrimination, racial discrimination, harassment, retaliation, and religious discrimination. All of which are in violation of the Fair Housing Act.
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