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. 

ACLU Calls for Denver Police to Stop Keeping Files on Peaceful Protesters

In a news conference held today, the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Colorado (ACLU) charged that the Denver Police Department is monitoring and recording the peaceful protest activities of Denver-area residents and keeping files on the expressive activities of law-abiding advocacy organizations.

The ACLU also contended that the Denver Police Department has inappropriately smeared the reputations of peaceful advocates of nonviolent social change by falsely labeling their organizations as "criminal extremist."

To support its contentions, the ACLU released several pages of documents that it says came from the files of the Denver Police Department. It also announced that it had written to Denver Mayor Wellington Webb asking him to put an immediate stop to the gathering and recording of information about the peaceful protest activities of Denver residents.

"The few pages of documents we have obtained so far provide an alarming glimpse of the kinds of information the Denver Police Department is recording and the kinds of peaceful protest activity it is monitoring inappropriately," said Mark Silverstein, ACLU Legal Director.

According to the ACLU, the Denver Police Department has recorded the following kinds of information about specific individuals, all in files marked as "permanent":

  • membership in the American Friends Service Committee, a Quaker organization dedicated to nonviolent social change;
  • organizing and speaking at events sponsored by Amnesty International;
  • attendance in 2000 at demonstrations sponsored by the Justice for Mena Committee, which sought to hold Denver police accountable for the killing of Ismael Mena in a botched no-knock raid in 1999;
  • membership in End the Politics of Cruelty, a Denver human rights group that focuses on issues of police accountability;
  • participation in protests against the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank in Washington, D.C.;
  • membership or association with the Chiapas Coalition, a Denver group that supports the rights of indigenous persons in Mexico's poorest state;
  • the purported opinion of a member of the Chiapas Coalition that "global financial policies are responsible for the uprisings in Chiapas, Mexico";
  • being "seen" at a demonstration in 2000 protesting the celebration of Columbus Day;
  • license numbers and descriptions of vehicles used by individuals identified as participants in peaceful protest activities;
  • home addresses and personal descriptions of individuals engaged in lawful expressive activity;
  • the address of a private residence that an individual reportedly "frequents";

According to the ACLU, the Denver Police Department branded several local organizations with the label "criminal extremist," including the American Friends Service Committee; the Chiapas Coalition, and End the Politics of Cruelty. "There is no support for labeling any of these groups as either extremist or criminal," Silverstein said. "The members of these organizations vigorously deny the accuracy of these labels."

"The police have no legitimate reason to keep files on the peaceful expression of political views and opinions," Silverstein said. "Denver residents should feel free to join a peaceful protest without fear that their names will wind up in police files. By monitoring lawful expressive activity in this manner and by falsely branding law-abiding organizations as criminals and extremists, the police will make Denver residents afraid to express their views and afraid to participate fully in our democracy. For that reason, we have asked Mayor Webb to put an immediate stop to this monitoring of peaceful protest activities."

The ACLU also asked Webb to prohibit the Denver police from sharing the files with other law enforcement agencies; to order a public accounting of the scope and nature of the files; to notify individuals named in the files and provide an opportunity for them to review the information; and to preserve the files in case they will be evidence in possible lawsuits. 

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