COLORADO: A Black separatist group’s utopian dream for land near Telluride withered after an armed standoff.

They were about two dozen leftist revolutionaries, almost all people of color. In Denver and other U.S. cities, the group’s chapters had spent the pandemic handing out food and personal protective equipment while planning their signature project: Hammer City, a utopian settlement high in the Rocky Mountains free of coronavirus, cops, money and white people. Together they would renounce private property, work the land and build power.

Commenters on Facebook and Twitter widely ridiculed the concept as a “cult” doomed for failure. But the activists raised more than $60,000. On May 3, 2021, Augustus Romain Jr., the group’s commander-in-chief, posted a photo of 10 people standing among sagebrush with raised fists and a declaration on Facebook: Black Hammer had “liberated” 200 acres of land somewhere in Colorado. The soil, they wrote, was rich.

Black Hammer never said where their new community was. Within weeks, the group suddenly stopped its dispatches from the desert.

But donations continued pouring in, eventually cresting the $100,000 mark, according to the organization’s fundraising webpage. Critics online wondered where the money went when the Hammers left Colorado.

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