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 on Denver officials to deliver on promised police reform


March 24, 2005


The Denver city administration is already failing to deliver on one of its promised reforms in how it deals with incidents in which police officers kill or seriously injure civilians, a spokesperson for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Colorado said today.


“Sixteen months ago the City administration announced what it billed as the most comprehensive police reforms ever undertaken in Denver,” said Mark Silverstein, ACLU Legal Director. “One of those reforms was a new type of public report that the Manager of Safety would issue in every case in which a police use of force results in death or serious injury to a civilian.”


“Issuing these reports to the public was a great idea,” Silverstein continued. “But Denver police have shot at least four civilians since then, three fatally. Another civilian died in August, 2004, after Denver police used a taser. In none of these cases has the promised Manager of Safety reports been issued. It’s time for the Denver City administration to deliver on the commitment it made to the public.”


The new Manager of Safety reports are touted in a news release from December 16, 2003 that appears on the City’s web site with the headline “Mayor Hickenlooper Unveils Most Comprehensive Police Reforms in City History.” According to that news release, “in order to serve the public interest and provide information about review processes, the Manager of Safety will issue a public report after any DPD incident involving use of force that results in a citizen’s death or serious bodily injury.”


According to Silverstein, so far the Manager of Safety has issued only one report explaining a Denver Police Department use of force. That was the report issued in April, 2004, regarding the shooting death of Paul Childs by Officer James Turney in July, 2003. Another report is expected by the end of this month about the shooting of Frank Lobato by Officer Ranjan Ford in July, 2004.


After the shooting of Mr. Lobato, community activists called on the Department of Justice (DOJ) to investigate the Denver Police Department. In an effort to forestall that investigation, city officials wrote to DOJ and touted various measures they said they had already undertaken to improve police accountability. In that letter, Denver officials said they had adopted “a new requirement that the Manager of Safety will issue a public report on all incidents in which a citizen sustains serious injury or death at the hands of a Denver Police Officer.”


“Denver’s letter to the Department of Justice said that the report on the shooting of Paul Childs was the first of the new Manager of Safety reports,” Silverstein said. “Denver police shot four additional civilians in 2003 after the Childs shooting, and there were four additional shootings of civilians as of August, 2004. Six of these eight shootings were fatal. . The Manager of Safety has not issued a report on any of these eight shootings, nor on the additional taser-associated death in 2004.”


“The City administration has also promised to issue these new Manager of Safety reports about each police use of force in which a civilian suffers serious bodily injury,” Silverstein continued. “This is not limited to injuries by firearms. Not one of those reports has been issued either. Indeed, the Manager of Safety doesn’t even have a mechanism in place to ensure that he is notified of each case of death or serious bodily injury.”


“The ACLU calls on the City administration to fulfill its commitment to issue public reports on these serious police uses of force,” Silverstein concluded.

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