Colorado Rights Blog


  • 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.

ACLU Announces Settlement with Fort Collins over Panhandling Law

March 30, 2015

DENVER – The City of Fort Collins has agreed to stop arresting, ticketing, citing, or otherwise interfering with individuals who engage in passive solicitation as part of a settlement agreement announced jointly by the ACLU of Colorado and Fort Collins today.

The ACLU filed a lawsuit in early February alleging that both the Fort Collins panhandling ordinance and its enforcement by local police violated the First Amendment.  According to the suit, the ordinance was overly broad and prohibited peaceful, polite and nonthreatening requests for charity.  In addition, the ACLU presented evidence that the overwhelming majority of the City’s enforcement had been directed at individuals who only passively asked for charity by displaying a sign, an activity that was not actually prohibited by the challenged ordinance.

“The First Amendment protects the rights of all people, regardless of economic circumstances or social status, to make peaceful, non-threatening requests for charity,” said ACLU of Colorado Legal Director Mark Silverstein.  “We were prepared to prove that the Fort Collins ordinance and the city’s campaign of enforcement, which went beyond the written words of the law, were unconstitutional.”

On Feb. 27, the Fort Collins City Council repealed all of the challenged provisions of the ordinance.  In today’s settlement, the City has also agreed to the entry of a federal court order forbidding police and city officials from interfering with the free speech rights of persons who panhandle by merely displaying a sign that invites charity.  The City also agreed to pay the plaintiffs’ legal fees and costs, and to provide the ACLU with 45 days advance notice of any future proposals to reinstate or revise the repealed provisions of the ordinance.

“We commend Fort Collins for agreeing to a resolution that protects free speech rights and avoids lengthy and costly litigation,” said ACLU cooperating attorney Hugh Gottschalk of Wheeler Trigg O’Donnell LLP.  “The City handled this matter in a prompt, professional, and responsible manner.”

The ACLU of Colorado is also currently litigating a challenge to Grand Junction’s panhandling ordinance. In recent years, the ACLU of Colorado has successfully challenged the criminalization of peaceful, non-threatening solicitation in Colorado Springs, Boulder, and Durango.  Last week, the organization sent a letter to Telluride warning that a recently proposed panhandling ordinance, if passed, would violate the First Amendment.

Along with its legal efforts, the ACLU of Colorado is also supporting HB 1264, known as the “Homeless Bill of Rights,” in the Colorado legislature.  The bill, which is scheduled to be heard by the House State Affairs Committee on April 15th, establishes basic rights for individuals and families experiencing homelessness, including, but not limited to, the right to move freely and to rest in public spaces.


Visit the case page:

Read ACLU Statement on Repeal of Fort Collins Panhandling Ordinance

Read the original complaint:

Client profiles:

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