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. 

A Few Questions for Scott Gessler

A Few Questions for Scott Gessler

Statement of C. Ray Drew
Executive Director
ACLU of Colorado

As Colorado’s Secretary of State, it is Scott Gessler’s job to supervise and administer our state’s elections. This is no small task, as voting is the essence of democracy. That is why we find it puzzling that he has decided to sue the City of Denver for helping its eligible voters cast their ballots. Instead of ensuring that Coloradans can vote, our Secretary of State is taking the unprecedented step of spending public money to keep the public from voting.

Why? Gessler leaves us guessing.

His actions would make it harder for lawful voters to cast their ballot simply because they haven’t voted in the last year. Maybe they were out of the country and did not request an absentee ballot. Perhaps they were serving in the military or were ill or simply felt uninspired by the choices available to them on the ballot. There are many reasons that voters cannot or do not cast a vote.

But to go as far as to file a lawsuit to prevent them from receiving a ballot — to make it HARDER to vote — leaves us questioning the commitment of the Secretary of State to the mission of his own office – to ensure the integrity of elections. What is more integral to an election than ensuring that all lawfully eligible voters can exercise that right?

What are his motives here?

Gessler says he won’t attempt to invalidate the ballots of inactive overseas voters already mailed by Denver, so his lawsuit is not about uniformity in ensuring the right to vote. It’s also not about voter fraud since it has been proven that so very little of that exists. Who is willing to risk eighteen months in jail for the “reward” of improperly voting? Gessler’s action is also not about saving money because it costs many more taxpayer dollars to launch a legal challenge of Denver election procedures than it would to simply but a stamp on a ballot and mail it to a voter who might be “inactive” but is otherwise eligible to vote.

As a candidate Gessler claimed to have “repeatedly fought for fair and open elections.” That may be, but this lawsuit is anything but a fair fight. Denver believes that the opportunity to vote is worth the price of a stamp and our Secretary of State should honor that decision, not fight it. Our democracy is stronger when more citizens who participate in elections. Any attempt to keep Coloradans from voting is simply shameful.

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