More than 200 chanting farmers trying to stop a public farm auction lined Main Street with banner-festooned tractors yesterday and stormed the steps of the courthouse before being dispersed by tear gas.
At least one person was hurt, and two farmers were arrested, according to Jerry Wright, whose 320-acre wheat and milo farm in southeastern Colorado was sold to the Federal Land Bank for $92,136, the only amount bid.
Alton Warren, president of the Federal Land Bank Association of Lamar, said Wright was three years behind on his payments.
"You can't take land without due process of law," Wright said after the sale. "I'm not planning on leaving the land. I will not evacuate the land. They're going to have to evict me."
Farmers from as far away as Missouri and Illinois began gathering more than an hour before the auction. Scores of tractors blocked U.S. 385 through downtown.
When Baca County Treasurer Thelma Goodnight attempted to read the public notice of the auction, the farmers began shouting "No sale! No sale!"
Observers said that some pushing ensued and the farmers refused to disperse. Moments later, a tear gas canister was thrown onto the street from an upstairs window of the courthouse.