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  • 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: acluco.org/redemption. 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 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. 

ACLU Lawsuit Challenges Racially Biased Policing in Colorado Springs

DENVER – In a lawsuit filed this morning against Colorado Springs police officers and the City of Colorado Springs, the ACLU of Colorado charged that two young African-American men were victims of the police department’s “custom and practice” of engaging in racially-biased policing and carrying out groundless, racially-motivated stops and searches.

In 2015, the lawsuit asserts, Ryan and Benjamin Brown were pulled over because of their race, handcuffed, searched, and detained at gun point and taser point, all without legal justification.  Despite a video recording that clearly showed the officers drawing their weapons without cause, refusing to identify the reason for the stop, and using unnecessary force, an internal affairs investigation concluded that the officers’ actions were “justified, legal, and proper.”

“This is a clear-cut case of racial profiling,” said Mark Silverstein, ACLU Legal Director.  “Ryan and Benjamin Brown were stopped because of the color of their skin.   There is no place for such racially-biased policing in a country dedicated to equal justice under the law.”

According to the ACLU lawsuit, “Colorado Springs has a custom, policy, and/or practice of doing the following to minority individuals: (1) engaging in racial profiling at the initial stop of individuals; (2) searching them without reasonable suspicion that they are armed or dangerous; and (3) unnecessarily detaining them for extended periods of time in an effort to build some basis for arrest.”

African-American males are stopped by the Colorado Springs Police Department as much as 161% more often than would be expected based on their proportion of the population, according to the complaint.

Ryan and Benjamin Brown were driving just a block away from their home in a predominantly white neighborhood when they were pulled over by Colorado Springs police.  To justify the stop, an officer later claimed that the men had been observed earlier in the day driving slowly through “a high crime area,” terminology that the complaint asserts is law enforcement code for “driving while black.”

A taser-wielding officer ordered Benjamin Brown, the driver, out of the car.  He was handcuffed, searched without cause, and detained in the back of a police vehicle, even though he had been cooperative, no weapons or contraband were found, and there was no evidence to suggest that he had been involved in a crime.

Ryan Brown then began recording the scene on his phone. His repeated requests for the officers to identify the reason for the stop were ignored.  Officers worked together to force him out of the car, push him to the ground, face down in the snow, search him, and cuff him, all the while at gunpoint.

While dragging Ryan Brown out of the car, officers on the video are heard saying that he is not under arrest and that they were just checking him for weapons.  No weapons were found.  Officers grabbed his phone and threw it in the snow.

Brown filed a complaint with the department following the incident.  He received a brief boilerplate letter in June informing him that police had conducted a “complete and thorough” investigation into the incident and concluded that the officers’ conduct was “justified, legal, and proper.”

“That the Colorado Springs Police Department saw nothing wrong with the conduct of its officers in the stop of Ryan and Benjamin Brown speaks volumes about the department’s culture and mentality when it comes to the constitutionally-protected rights of Black men,” said ACLU cooperating attorney Darold W. Killmer of Killmer, Lane & Newman LLP.

The ACLU lawsuit seeks compensatory and punitive damages.  The case is being litigated by Killmer and Andy McNulty of Killmer, Lane & Newman, as well as Silverstein and ACLU staff attorneys Sara Neel and Rebecca T. Wallace.

Resources:

Read the ACLU complaint:

https://aclu-co.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/ACLUBrownvCoSpringsCOMPLAINT.pdf

Watch Ryan Brown’s video recording of the stop:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WkvPlxps7zo

Read the letter from the Colorado Springs Police Department clearing the officers of wrongdoing: http://static.aclu-co.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/2015-06-08-Brown-Cmdr.-Howard-IA-Investigation-Decision-REDACTED.pdf

Visit the ACLU case page: https://aclu-co.org/court-cases/colorado-springs-racial-profiling/



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