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  • 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. 

  • Ronald Johnson is pre-diabetic, suffers from asthma and high blood pressure, and regularly uses an inhaler to breathe. His age and respiratory ailments put him at risk of serious illness and death if he contracts COVID-19. With over hundreds of active cases in Colorado’s prisons, his family fears he will not make it out alive. His daughter, Amber, says, “In prison, he can’t protect himself and he can’t social distance. My deep fear is that my dad will die in prison. That is an awful, traumatic reality to consider. My chest is tight just thinking about how quickly it spreads and how vulnerable he is.”

    Governor Hickenlooper shortened his sentence following testimony from family, friends and correctional officers advocating for his early release. Yet, he is still eight years away from parole. While he remains in prison, COVID-19 continues to spread. Ronald’s three siblings, four children and four grandchildren are desperate for his release.

    Read more about Ronald Johnson and other at-risk incarcerated people.

  • Tuesday Olson knew her pregnancy was in trouble and tried to access hospital care as soon as possible. But there was a problem: she was in jail. This is her story.
  • It’s time to end the death penalty in Colorado. Family members who lost loved ones to murder speak out against an unjust and broken system.

CONTACT: Mark Silverstein, ACLU Legal Director, 303-777-5482 x114

The ACLU of Colorado announced today a settlement of a four-year-old legal battle over state regulations that apply to rallies, demonstrations, and other First Amendment activity on the West steps of the Capitol Building and nearby locations administered by the Colorado Department of Personnel and Administration (DPA). 

“Colorado has now revised regulations adopted in 2004 that threatened the right of the public to freely express their views at one of Colorado’s most visible and frequently-used locations for rallies and demonstrations,” said Mark Silverstein, ACLU Legal Director.    “It is vitally important that all Coloradans, regardless of their views, have an equal opportunity to use that location for political speech without the threat of interference by government bureaucrats. The ACLU is pleased that the State of Colorado has now repaired the regulations that were the subject of our legal challenge.”

The agreement, which dismissed the pending lawsuit, was reached just as the Colorado Court of Appeals was set to hear legal argument Tuesday about the legal validity of four regulations the State adopted in 2004.

One of the challenged regulations authorized the DPA Director to cancel a rally permit whenever the Department of Homeland Security declared that the ‘level of security’ was heightened.  “Since the ‘level of security’ has been elevated ever since Homeland Security created its color-coded advisory in 2002,” Silverstein said, “the regulation authorized the Director to cancel any and every rally that has been scheduled for the last six years.  The constitutional protections of free expression do not allow a government official to exercise that kind of discretion to deny or prohibit speech.   Although the Director did not actually use that power while this lawsuit was pending, the grant of authority to exercise that power nevertheless violated the Constitution.”  

Under the revised regulation, the Director is not authorized to cancel a rally unless there is a specific threat to the State Capitol grounds and cancellation is necessary to protect the public safety. Another revision makes it clear that state patrol officers cannot revoke a rally permit unless there is a significant, direct, and immediate threat to public property or public safety. As adopted in 2004, the original version authorized the state patrol to shut down a rally if any participant was violating a law or a regulation, no matter how minor the violation.  Finally, the DPA relaxed regulations the ACLU challenged that restricted solicitation of donations and selling message-bearing materials like buttons or bumper stickers.

Cooperating attorneys for the ACLU in the Court of Appeals were Kevin Paul and Cynthia Coleman of Heizer | Paul LLP. 

Read additional information about the case, ACLU v. Gonzalez (originally ACLU v. Wells).

About the ACLU of Colorado
The ACLU is a nationwide, non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to defending and preserving the principles of the Bill of Rights through litigation, advocacy and public education.  The ACLU Foundation of Colorado works to protect the rights of all Coloradans. 



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