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  • 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 https://action.aclu.org/give/support-aclu-colorado

  • 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.

ACLU files amicus brief asking Colorado Court of Appeals to reinstate Ward Churchill after a jury found that CU fired him for expressing his beliefs

University Of Colorado Must Reinstate Professor Whose Free Speech Rights Were Violated

ACLU, AAUP And NCAC File Brief Urging Court To Uphold First Amendment In Ward Churchill Case

CONTACT:
Rachel Myers, ACLU national, (212) 549-2689 or 2666
Mark Silverstein, ACLU Legal Director, 303-777-5482 x114

NEW YORK – The American Civil Liberties Union, ACLU of Colorado, American Association of University Professors (AAUP) and National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC) today submitted a brief to a Colorado Court of Appeals arguing that the University of Colorado, a publicly funded university, should reinstate a tenured professor who was wrongly terminated from his job there for exercising his right to free speech.

“The First Amendment prohibits public officials from suppressing lawful speech or retaliating against those who engage in such speech, no matter how unpopular or offensive the speech may be to some people,” said Aden Fine, staff attorney with the ACLU First Amendment Working Group. “That is especially the case in the university setting, where the Supreme Court has made clear that First Amendment freedoms must be vigilantly protected.”

After he was fired from the teaching post he had held for many years, Ward Churchill sued the University and its Board of Regents alleging that he was unconstitutionally terminated because of a controversial and unpopular essay he had written concerning the events on September 11. In April 2009, a jury agreed that Churchill was fired for expressing his personal opinions, which is a clear violation of his First Amendment rights.

However, a judge denied Churchill’s petition to be reinstated to his job, essentially denying him any relief for the blatant denial of his rights. Churchill is appealing that decision to the Colorado Court of Appeals. The ACLU, ACLU of Colorado, AAUP and NCAC filed a friend-of-the-court brief supporting reversal of the trial court’s decision, arguing that plaintiffs whose constitutional rights have been violated must be provided with a remedy, and that in this case, Churchill should be reinstated to the job from which he was wrongly fired.

“Denying a remedy to people whose rights have been violated amounts to gutting the Constitution,” said Mariko Hirose, a legal fellow with the ACLU First Amendment Working Group. “The court has a responsibility to ensure the University of Colorado rights its wrong and reinstates Professor Churchill immediately.”

“Unless the trial court’s ruling is corrected, university professors will receive the chilling message that silence is smart and voicing unpopular views can be fatal to their careers,” said Mark Silverstein, ACLU of Colorado Legal Director. “The First Amendment right to speak out is meaningful only if it is enforceable in court.”

Read the friend-of-the-court brief.

See the docket page for more information on this case.

Attorneys include Fine and Hirose of the ACLU First Amendment Working Group, Silverstein of the ACLU of Colorado, Rachel Levinson of AAUP and Joan Bertin of NCAC.

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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