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 Lawsuit: Town Ordinance Silences Residents’ Freedom of Speech

July 25, 2019

DENVER – ACLU of Colorado attorneys sued the Town of Fraser this morning for prohibiting ACLU clients from posting communicative displays on their property that express their views on social and political issues.

Beginning soon after the last presidential election, ACLU clients Melinda McWilliams and Alan Jensen began posting 2-sided displays in Jensen’s front yard in Fraser that communicated their displeasure with President Trump as well as the need for action about global warming. The display soon included eight double-sided signs, which stood for more than a year, without incident, until September 2018. At that time, Jensen received a letter from the Fraser Town Manager demanding he remove the signs or face prosecution for violation of the Fraser sign code. Violations are punishable by a stiff fine and up to a year in jail, with each day counting as a separate offense.

“Fraser’s sign code imposes drastic and unjustifiable limits on residents’ rights to express their views with messages posted on their own property,” said Mark Silverstein, ACLU Legal Director.  “Residents are required to obtain $40 permits and are basically restricted to a solitary yard sign that cannot be larger than six square feet.”

“Works of art,” however, are not subject to the sign code’s restrictions. The ACLU clients removed their original signs under threat of prosecution but then submitted four sketches of proposed communicative displays that they believed would qualify as exempt “works of art” under the Fraser sign code (see below).

In a meeting, Town Manager Jeffrey Durbin rejected the sketches, saying that they would “just attract more attention,” and warning the ACLU’s clients that the proposed works would violate Fraser’s ordinance.

“Many people who liked my signs have asked me what happened to them,” said Jensen. “I tell them the Town forced me to remove them under the threat of fines, prosecution or jail.”

“The Town of Fraser has silenced our clients simply because it does not approve of what they have to say or the way in which they choose to say it,” Silverstein added. “The Constitution does not allow this kind of government censorship of expression. The Town’s sign code is a content-based regulation of speech that violates the First Amendment.”

The lawsuit, along with a motion for a preliminary injunction to prevent enforcement of Fraser’s sign code, was filed this morning in federal district court in Denver. In addition to an injunction, the lawsuit seeks nominal damages and a judicial declaration that the challenge ordinance violates the First Amendment.

In addition to Silverstein, the clients are represented by ACLU attorneys Sara Neel and Arielle Herzberg, and ACLU Cooperating Attorneys Christopher Jackson and Alyssa Levy of Sherman and Howard.

Click here to view individual images.


The ACLU of Colorado is the state’s oldest civil rights organization, protecting and defending the civil rights of all Coloradans through litigation, education and advocacy.


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