Acks v. City and County of Denver

Criminal Justice | Freedom of Expression & Religion
Case No. 2009-CV-8007
ACLU Case No. 2008-22


NOTICE TO MEMBERS OF OUR CLASS ACTION: You are entitled to compensation from the settlement of this case. Please read the "Notice of Proposed Settlement" (PDF link on the right side of this page) If you believe you are a class member and have not received compensation please contact Benezra & Culver, P.C.

This lawsuit focuses on events of the evening of August 25, 2008, during the Democratic National Convention. During the early evening hours of the first day of the DNC, a solid line of riot-equipped police shut down a protest march as it proceeded on 15th Street and the adjoining sidewalks in downtown Denver. A second line of police quickly closed in from behind, confining hundreds of persons in a one-block stretch of 15th Street between Court and Cleveland.

The encircled group included participants who had been marching legally on the public sidewalks as well as persons who had been marching in the street without the required permit. It also included legal observers, curious onlookers, members of the press, and other nonparticipants.

The lawsuit asserts that Denver carried out an arbitrary and groundless mass arrest, without probable cause, of 96 individuals, knowing that the group included numerous innocent persons, including the eight individual Plaintiffs in this case.

All Plaintiffs were charged with failing to obey a lawful order to disperse. After Denver finally acknowledged that no such dispersal order had ever been issued, Denver nevertheless persisted in prosecuting the plaintiffs for “obstructing” a public right of way by allegedly marching in the street without a permit. All cases eventually resulted in acquittals after jury trials or dismissal of charges.

Arrestees were locked into holding cells at a Denver warehouse converted into a detention facility for DNC-related arrests. At that detention facility, Denver refused to allow attorneys to meet with or speak with any of the arrestees.  

The lawsuit seeks damages for the eight Plaintiffs who were falsely arrested in violation of their rights under the First and Fourth Amendments. Pursuant to a Colorado statute that requires jailers to allow arrestees to meet with attorneys, C.R.S. § 16-3-404, the ACLU lawyers also sued on behalf of all individuals who were ensnared in the mass arrest on 15th Street and detained at Denver’s detention facility.


Watch video of Plaintiff Chase Goll as his arresting officer swears under oath that Goll disobeyed “3 separate orders” to disperse given by Sgt. Foster.

Watch a video of Plaintiff Eli Hardy as DPD Officer Sutton swears under oath that Hardy disobeyed a dispersal order given 3 times over a loudspeaker by Sgt. Foster.


John Culver
Lonn Heymann
Mark Silverstein , ACLU of Colorado Legal Director
Seth Benezra
Taylor Pendergrass , ACLU of Colorado Staff Attorney

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