Colorado Rights Blog


  • Cedric Watkins is a father, uncle, entrepreneur-in-training, and a vital community pillar for many others. While behind bars, he has tirelessly devoted himself to serving his peers and his community. He developed gang disaffiliation programs for other incarcerated individuals and is currently involved with Defy Ventures. He sends letters and calls his daughter as much as he can.

    Cedric is currently in prison at Sterling Correctional Facility. He was convicted of aggravated robbery, burglary, kidnapping, theft and sentenced to 80 years; no one was seriously injured or killed. For comparison, a person convicted of second-degree murder in Colorado faces a maximum sentence of 48 years. Cedric has already served 20 years and has fully rehabilitated during that time.

    It’s time to bring Cedric home: Redemption is real. Clemency is compassion.

  • On November 21, 2016, 13 Aurora police officers responded to a simple noise complaint at Alberto Torres’s home. As happens all too often, Aurora police officers escalated this minor issue into a brutal affair. They beat Mr. Torres solely because he delayed exiting his garage to ask his wife to interpret for him. With that beating, the lives of Mr. Torres and every member of his family were changed and he has yet to recover. ACLU of Colorado fought to obtain justice for Mr. Torres, and Aurora has now paid him $285,000. But money is not justice, and the brutality of the Aurora Police Department against people of color has continued unabated.

    It doesn’t have to be this way.

    Imagine, if instead of 13 officers being dispatched to Mr. Torres’s home for a noise complaint, the City of Aurora sent a civilian-led response team to check on his welfare and ask that he and his friends lower their sound, resulting in a non-violent solution to a minor issue?

    ACLU Settles Case With Aurora After Police Brutalize and Unlawfully Arrest Alberto Torres

  • Hope is a discipline. It’s a commitment that together, we can create a more perfect union. We won’t rest until we fulfill the promise of equal rights for ALL people in the United States.

    Join us in our fight to fulfill this promise and move forward with hope by donating to the ACLU of Colorado. Your donation supports the ACLU’s strengths that make our work effective and collaborative.

    Donate now at

  • Anthony Martinez is 84-years-old and suffering from renal failure, as well as other serious medical conditions including dementia. He is currently incarcerated in the Sterling Correctional Facility, site of one of Colorado’s largest COVID-19 outbreaks with almost 600 active COVID-19 cases. He and his family are understandably terrified that he will catch the virus and die.

    In the midst of this public health crisis, incarcerated people as vulnerable as Anthony, could and should be immediately released to safely live out their remaining years with family.

    Read more about Anthony Martinez and other at-risk incarcerated people. 

Prepared ACLU Remarks to Colorado Springs City Council on the Proposed “Sit/Lie” Ordinance


DENVER – This afternoon, the Colorado Springs City Council will once again consider a controversial proposal to make it a crime, punishable by up to a $500 fine on first offense and up to 90 days in jail on second offense, to sit, kneel, recline, or lie down on curbs and sidewalks downtown.

Prepared Remarks of ACLU of Colorado Field Coordinator Alejandra Garza to the Colorado Springs City Council on the proposed “Sit/Lie” Ordinance:

The ACLU of Colorado strongly opposes the ordinance before the Council today, as we oppose any new laws that make it a crime to use public spaces, especially those that disproportionately target people who are homeless or living in poverty.

As we have said repeatedly to this Council for months, there is no public safety justification for making it a crime to sit.

If this Council moves forward with this proposal, it will become a criminal act for my 7-year-old daughter to sit or kneel down to tie her shoes. That is the very definition of absurd.

Of course, we all know that this new law will not be enforced against me or my daughter. It is intended entirely to give the police another tool of selective enforcement to target and harass people who are homeless or living in poverty and have nowhere else to go.

Far too often, this city’s approach to poverty and homelessness has been criminalization. Several months ago, an ACLU of Colorado investigation revealed hundreds of cases where Colorado Springs, at all levels of its justice system, enforced unconstitutional panhandling ordinances against poor and homeless persons who were not actually violating those ordinances, persons who were merely displaying a sign asking for charity.

An additional ACLU investigation found that hundreds of fines that were handed out to poor and homeless individuals for non-jailable offenses were then converted to jail sentences, setting up a kind of debtor’s prison in Colorado Springs.

Given the recent history, it is extremely hard to believe that this ordinance will be enforced correctly and that poor and homeless people will not be wrongly jailed, at the taxpayers’ expense, if this new law were to pass.

We welcome the City’s decision to repeal the unconstitutional provisions of the panhandling ordinances later in today’s meeting.  Unfortunately, at the same time this Council is removing one unconstitutional way that poor people have been unjustifiably targeted, it is considering putting in place a wrong-headed proposal to make it a crime to sit on the public sidewalk.   The Council, the police, and the courts should focus their time and resources on actual crimes with actual victims, not rounding up and harassing people who are doing nothing more than sitting.


ACLU Wins Dismissal of Hundreds of Panhandling Charges in Colorado Springs:

Colorado Springs Sentences Hundreds of Impoverished People to Debtors’ Prison in Violation of U.S Constitution and State Law:

ACLU of Colorado Statement on the Proposed “Sit-Lie” Ordinance in Colorado Springs (8/24/15):


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