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 Heads to Court on Motion to Dismiss Case of Fort Collins Man Who Was a Victim of the City’s Camping Ban

DENVER – The ACLU of Colorado announced that it will present evidence tomorrow, May 7 in Fort Collins Municipal Court in support of its motion to dismiss the prosecution of Adam Wiemold, a homeless man who is charged with illegal “camping” by Fort Collins police for sleeping in his vehicle at a designated rest area where truck drivers regularly rest in their vehicles with impunity.

“I was sleeping in my vehicle because, even with a full-time job, I just didn’t make enough money to pay my bills and pay rent,” Wiemold said. “It shouldn’t be a crime to be homeless or to simply sleep. But, in Fort Collins, it is.”

Fort Collins has been criticized for its vigorous enforcement of its citywide anti-camping ordinance, which forbids sleeping in public spaces, including inside a person’s own legally-parked vehicle. The Fort Collins Homeless Coalition has documented an almost 500% increase in citations under the ordinance, with 413 prosecutions initiated in 2017.

Critics of such camping ordinances scored a recent victory when a federal circuit court of appeals ruled in an Idaho case that it violates the Constitution to prosecute persons for sleeping outside when they have no other choice, such as when indoor shelters are full. The influential ruling has already prompted some cities to amend their anti-camping ordinances to make exceptions when shelters are full, but Fort Collins makes no exception. ACLU of Colorado attorneys will rely on that decision in Wiemold’s case — the first Colorado case to invoke that widely-watched court ruling.

“On the night Mr. Wiemold was charged with sleeping in his vehicle, the shelters were full,” said ACLU Legal Director Mark Silverstein. “Our client had no choice but to sleep outside. He is not being prosecuted for a crime; he is being prosecuted for being poor. In Fort Collins, apparently, poor is a four-letter word.”

ACLU lawyers will also argue that the case against Mr. Wiemold must be thrown out on grounds of unconstitutional selective prosecution. Police communications and additional evidence will show that the police operation that snared Mr. Wiemold was deliberately targeted at homeless persons, while interstate truckers engaged in the same conduct at the same rest area were left undisturbed.

“Sleeping in one’s car is not a luxury,” said Adam Frank, who will argue for Mr. Wiemold as an ACLU cooperating attorney. “It’s a last resort. To selectively punish some people for simply trying to sleep and survive is the very definition of cruel and unusual.”

Attorneys for both sides will present evidence at the Municipal Court, Fort Collins, Colorado on May 7 at 1 p.m.

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